It’s an American tradition for colleges and universities to have a mascot, something that represents school spirit and unites the student body. The mascot is usually symbolic – there are no actual bears on the campus of Shaw University, nor wolves roaming the campus of N.C. State.
Many schools have real mascots but the animals live in secured facilities off campus and are brought in for special occasions, like the University of North Carolina’s ram.
However at St. Augustine’s University, our mascot actually lives on campus. A family of peregrine falcons lives on top of the Latham Hall dormitory.
The falcons were not put there by anybody – they are a native species in this area and apparently just decided that Saint Augustine’s University would be a good place to set up a nest.
Although many may not know what they are looking at when they see the birds, the falcons are a fairly regular sight on campus. They are majestic, flying across the sky, sometimes low enough for you to take a really nice picture. But they also can cause an unsitely mess when they kill squirrels, birds and other small creatures for their meal.
Our real-life mascots can be a blessing and a curse, but they definitely add a unique aspect to campus life.
“It’s so cool when you see them,” said Imani Prince, a sophomore. “I’ve never really seen a real falcon in person before…and when they perch on top of railings with pieces of squirrel, it’s kind of cool.”
The birds stir up discussion and occasional fear – with sharp claws, a pointed beak and a wingspan of as much as four feet, falcons can be intimidating. However there have been no reports of any falcons hurting anyone and, according to the website Live Science, it’s unlikely that they would attack a human being. “They normally like smaller animals,” according to the website.
It may be a coincidence that we have real live falcons on campus, but many are happy they’re here.
“They are the embodiment of what Saint Augustine’s tries to be,” said Dr. Shawn Lewis, chair of the Media and Communications Department. “They soar through the air and are beautiful creatures.”
— Elyscia Vaughn Brown