By Associated Press - Thursday, June 25, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The U.S. Air Force Academy welcomed a new mascot into its ranks and will break with tradition by allowing cadets to name the falcon.

The service academy’s students will vote on a name for the female gyrfalcon from suggestions submitted via social media, The Gazette reports.

The falcon chick was hatched in May, academy spokeswoman Maureen Welch said.

Each falcon is normally named by its cadet falconer.

Name suggestions submitted so far on Twitter include Athena, Blue, Soar, and Falcon McFalconface.

The previous falcon, Aurora, died in October after serving 23 years as the academy’s live mascot.

Cadets from the U.S. Military Academy abducted Aurora in a 2018 prank while the falcon accompanied the Air Force team to an annual football game against the Army academy in West Point, New York.

The Air Force falconry team reported that when Aurora and another Air Force falcon were returned, she had blood on her wings from abrasions likely caused by thrashing in a crate.

The Air Force Academy’s first live mascot in October 1955 was a peregrine falcon named Mach 1. The falcon was chosen in a belief the bird best characterized the combat role of the Air Force, the academy said.

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