Watching a bald eagle taking a splash bath is pure entertainment. They wade in about “waist high”, look to the left, look to the right, then face forward and slam their stern face into the water and splash around. Then up they come to shake it off, and slam their face back down. I don’t know how they can do this without ever cracking a smile. My recent painting, “Wilderness Day Spa,” is 12″ x 9″, acrylic on hardboard. From a video by Sasse Photo used with permission.
Bald eagles Harriet and M15 have been through difficult times this year, yet they managed to achieve a small miracle. A pair of bald eagles generally only have one clutch of eggs and a brood of eaglets each nesting season unless the first clutch or brood is somehow lost. And theirs was tragically lost. They took a chance.
The two re-nested and recently brought two more eaglets into the world as the season waned. Not unheard of, but certainly special. And eaglets truly are small miracles.
Their recent eaglets have thrived and are soon to fledge. One has been “branching”– flying a short distance to a near branch. The other might have, too, by now. Both are doing tremendous exercises to develop their wing muscles for the big day.
We all grow by doing the difficult things. At first, I turned down this commission due to health problems. I regretted that decision the same day. Destiny Boyce is a remarkable young person about to enter high school. She stands here with her handsome Colorado Mustang, Tebow. Tebow was adopted years ago through a Bureau of Land Management program, semi-wild at the time. His then owners provided basic training, then put him out to pasture for a decade. He doesn’t like the rider being in charge, and is still unpredictable. With love and considerable grit, Destiny began training him just four months ago, and though he still needs more hands on, Tebow has recently won awards, and is happy to follow Destiny anywhere she goes– which will be far indeed. “Destiny and Her Mustang,” 8 x 8 inches, colored pencil on black Bristol board.
This depicts bald eagles Harriet and M15 in their nest in Southwest FL. In January 2020, Harriet laid two eggs. One did not hatch. The other hatched and the eaglet was named E14. Twenty-six days later, E14 passed away under tragic circumstances involving pesticides. Harriet and M15 are now incubating a new clutch and hopes are high for this couple.
Shown here are Harriet and M15, a bald eagle pair that lost their 27-day-old baby after a freak accident that caused one of the eaglet’s blood pin feathers to break, creating a flow of blood through the stem of the broken feather that could not be staunched by normal coagulation. I had decided that morning that I’d not been spending enough time watching little E14 growing up in this nest, as I had been rotating between three nests– one on each coast of America, and a third in Illinois. I watched that day as the parents discovered the tragic injury, and watched as they tried to help their infant, but their options were too few. Throughout the day, the little eagle grew weaker, and by nightfall had gone to sleep between its mother’s feet, under the comfort of her warm belly, as she stood watch throughout the night to guard against predators and scavengers that might be drawn to the blood in the nest. At about 3:30 a.m. EST, eaglet E14 took what appeared to be its final breath. Mom remained on guard the rest of that night, but the little bird did not move again after that time.
The following morning, what was intended to have been a rescue team, became a retrieval team, and the little body was removed from the nest and examined to determine cause of death. The drawing above is Harriet and M15’s first night after their loss, roosting side by side above the nest.
E14 Dec. 19, 2019 – Jan. 15, 2020
Note: The above image is satisfactorily close to the actual colors and contrast as I intended and as I was working on the piece. But because of the slight sheen of the color pencils, variations in room lighting cause significant changes in the colors and contrasts in this piece.