Night Falls So Hard

“Night Falls So Hard” 5″ x 7″ color pencil on black bristol board.

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.