The Inspiration behind these Pieces:
I was approached by a Sculpture/Botanical Garden to create some Bald Eagles for a new garden exhibit. I developed the concept of a nesting family of 4. The complete scene: Trout is on the menu, and while the mother feeds and guards the new nestlings, the male is arriving at the nest with another trout.
The story behind the chicks in this nest… Most songbirds lay an egg every 1-2 days, until all eggs are laid. Only then do parents begin to incubate. This causes all babies to be the same age, hatching within a short time of each other. But eagles, like all raptors and owls, begin incubating as soon as the first egg is laid. Usually there are 2-3 eggs per nest, laid several days apart. This means one chick will hatch earlier than each successive sibling, and be older and stronger.
In good years, with enough food for everyone, the youngest still gets enough to eat. They all grow strong and survive to fledge together. However, in lean years, the strongest and most vocal chick gets the most food, and the younger ones get weaker and weaker until they starve or are killed by the older chick. Nature’s way insures that at least one chick will survive.
In this nest, it’s a good year. The older chick has had his meal and with full crop, he moves off, distracted by his father approaching the nest with another fish. Meanwhile, the youngest chick, seizing his turn, is begging to be fed.
American Bald Eagle Information:
Found only in the Americas (Canada/Alaska, south through the U.S. to northern Mexico), the American Bald Eagle, our national symbol, is an opportunistic feeder. While it prefers habitats that include plenty of open water for fish and waterfowl, it is not opposed to stealing its meal from ospreys, plus supplementing with occasional carrion of deer, squirrels, rabbits, etc.
By the 1950s, the disastrous pesticide, DDT - with its eggshell-thinning properties that decimated bird populations - as well as deaths by shooting/habitat loss, brought the bald eagle population down to only 412 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states (824 birds!). One of the first species listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1967, lawmakers finally mobilized against extinction. 40 years later, thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, the bald eagle was delisted in 2007, and today, sightings of bald eagles along waterways have become fairly common again. As of 2019, an estimated 9,800 pairs are now breeding in the lower 48.