The Eagles have Landed

In January and February, it's bald eagle season in eastern Iowa. Here in the Quad Cities, we have the open waters of the Mississippi River to thank for that! The eagles have put on a great show this season at Lock and Dam 15, located between Davenport and Rock Island, and it's nothing short of phenomenal, considering they were once on the verge of extinction, down to just 800 birds, some 40 years ago. 

I have learned so much about them throughout the past few weeks, and after several years of photographing, sketching, and painting the Mississippi River, I thought I'd give sketching a few of it's resident Bald Eagles a try. 

Why Bald Eagles?

"I love witnessing the strength of eagles & How they have been used symbolically throughout human history across so many cultures"

- Marie Stephens

Eagle symbolism

loyalty

freedom

truth

foresight

devotion

honor

hope

spiritual

Discover

9 Bald Eagle Facts

Permanent Pairs

Bald eagles mate for life.

Long Live the Eagles

Bald eagles can live for up to 35 years.

Flyin high

Bald eagles soar up to 10,000 feet high!


A need for Speed

Bald eagles can drop at 100 mph. to swoop down for a fish.

Stellar vision

Bald eagles can spot a fish in the water from a mile away.

Home sweet home

Bald eagles come back to the same nest year after year.


Dinner on the Go

Bald eagles sometimes eat while still in flight!

Girl Power

Female bald eagles are larger than males.

Born Bald & Beautiful?

Nope! Bald eagles don't develop their white (bald head) until they are 5 yrs. old.


My Eagle Obsession

Lasts from January-February

I have spent hours and hours studying them, trying to understand what fascinates me so much about them. I think it’s their ability to glide so gracefully, and then, without warning, turn on a dime and dive bomb an unsuspecting fish right out of the water. Or the way they can just stay horizontal and lower down like a drone. The bald eagles have inspired me to take hundreds of pictures, make several short videos,  and create several sketches.


Discover

Bald Eagle watching Tips

Best viewing times

I have seen the largest numbers hunt for fish at 8:30am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, & 1 hour before dusk.

Best viewing places

In Iowa, we go where there is open water, which is usually near a dam on a river.

Stay calm, patient, bring snacks, & wear layers

Eagle watching is a lot like being a detective, you might have to sit still for a while to get the perfect picture or video!

bring a tripod and turn off your vehicle

Even if you are only using your phone to take pictures, when you are zoomed in, any movement will cause your image to be blurred...even your pulse, the vibration of the vehicle, or gusts of wind.  Tripods can really help with this too. The photo below is an example of a still frame created from a screenshot of a video that was paused!

Even if you are only using your phone to take pictures, when you are zoomed in, any movement will cause your image to be blurred...even your pulse, the vibration of the vehicle, or gusts of wind.  Tripods can really help with this too. The photo below is an example of a still frame created from a screenshot of a video that was paused!


DINE-IN or carry out at Lock and Dam 15

This photo is just one reason why I go back to see the eagles so often.  It takes hours of viewing and observation to get a lucky shot like this one! This young bald eagle may have caught more than he bargained for!  Watch him in action on Facebook

Watch this bald eagle in action!

animal art hack

Use the tips below to get cool shots like the image above that you can use for reference for your art!
take video

action clips

Short 10 second clips will result in clearer shots with better color and detail.

review 

the footage

With the video on pause, drag your finger through the scroll bar on the video to review quickly.

pause

at the perfect spot

With your finger still on your phone screen, stop when you find the best pose.

screenshot

the perfect pose

Use your other hand to press the buttons on your phone and get a screenshot.  Now you have a nice reference photo!

Short eagle videos 

The links below will show you some of the 15-30 second 

videos I used to get my perfectly posed  eagle screenshots.