Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jean Keene, 'Eagle Lady,' fed eagles for ~30 years

Los Angeles Times carries the obituary today of Jean Keene, known widely as the "Eagle Lady" for her habit of feeding Bald Eagles in Homer, Alaska. She died Jan. 13 at the age of 85.

She started feeding the eagles in the late 1970s, when she was working at a fish-processing plant called Icicle Seafoods, located on the narrow spit of land that juts into the Kachemak Bay. Every day she would chop hundreds of pounds of salmon heads and tails, as well as cod and herring, most of it spoiled or freezer-burned, and toss it to the predatory birds.

The eagles' wintertime arrival and the woman feeding them on the pebbly beach outside her tiny trailer attracted photographers to Homer from throughout the country. As a Washington Post reporter put it in 2005, "If you have seen stunning close-up photographs of bald eagles with fish in their beaks in glossy magazines . . . chances are good that they were shot outside Keene's trailer."

Some residents in Homer saw the daily barrage of the birds seeking Keene's handouts as a nuisance, and a town law was passed in 2006 to prevent people from feeding certain species.

After a public outcry, however, Keene received a special reprieve and was allowed to continue feeding the eagles until 2010.
Click on the link above to see Keene's image.

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