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Feeding the Eagles

Message claims that a series of photographs show the feeding of bald eagles during very cold weather at St. Louis, Missouri and Alton, Illinois (and other locations) in January 2010.

Brief Analysis
The photographs are genuine but the description is inaccurate. The photographs were taken in 2009 at a specially designated eagle feeding area near the town of Homer, Alaska.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: 8th October 2010
First published: 8th October 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

Subject: Feeding the Eagles

January of this year, 2010, the weather stayed so cold in St. Louis, Missouri and Alton, Illinois that the bald eagles were cruising over houses in hopes of a quick meal. They could not access fish that were at the bottom of the river and had gathered together. Some kind souls decided to feed the eagles so they would survive the cold spell. They gathered fish and started feeding the group of eagles huddled on the shore.

The photos below show what happened. A former teaching colleague took these photos in front of his home.


Feeding the Eagles!

Feeding the Eagles 1

A beautiful morning feeding the eagles, Jan.. 2010

Feeding the Eagles 2

Once the fish were thrown, the eagles did not seem to fear the good Samaritans and word spread fast!

Feeding the Eagles 3

Eagles vying for the fish. January, 2010.

Feeding the Eagles 4

No zoom lens used here! The photographer was this close!

Feeding the Eagles 5

Feeding the Eagles 6

Here are the men who were feeding them. So close!!
As you know, it was not too long ago that the American Bald Eagle was an endangered species.

Amazing pictures please pass along

Detailed Analysis
This message, which features a series of spectacular shots of bald eagles congregating to be fed, circulates via email and has also been posted to numerous blogs, forums and social networks. The message claims that, due to very cold weather, the eagles could not gain access to fish as they normally would, so local residents decided to feed them so that they would survive the cold spell. This version of the message claims that the feedings took place in St. Louis, Missouri and Alton, Illinois. Other variants of the message move the location of the feedings to Goose Spit, Comox, British Columbia.

Image: Wikipedia: Nancy Jane York

Feeding eagles Homer Alaska
Feed eagles at Homer, Alaska
The photographs are genuine and do depict the feeding of bald eagles. However, the description is inaccurate in several respects. Firstly, the feedings did not take place in St. Louis, Missouri, Alton, Illinois, or Goose Spit, British Columbia. In fact, the photographs were taken near the town of Homer Alaska. Secondly, the eagles did not spontaneously congregate to be fed by humans because they were desperate for food as suggested in the message. In fact, as explained in detail later in the article, the eagles in the photographs were at a designated feeding area at which they had been fed many times before. And, finally, as confirmed by image metadata, the photographs were shot in 2009, not 2010 as stated in the message.

The eagles in the photographs were being fed near the home of Alaska's famous 'Eagle Lady,' - Jean Keene - who died in January 2009. A January 20, 2009 article about Jean Keene published in the Los Angeles Times explains:
With her flaming red hair, bright red lipstick and large round glasses, Keene was a fixture in Homer, an Alaska fishing and artists community 130 miles south of Anchorage.

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.
The sign in the first photograph in the series designates the spot as an "Eagle Feeding Area". A photograph in a January 2009 article published in the Anchorage Daily News shows a close-up view of the sign, which is clearly the same sign shown in the above photograph. There are many other photographs showing the feeding of the eagles at Homer, Alaska available online. These photographs were clearly taken in the same location as those included in the above message.

The following YouTube videos provide footage of the Homer eagles and Jean Keene's long and extraordinary association with these majestic birds:

Bookmark and Share References
Jovia Life - Feeding the Eagles!
Jean Keene
Jean Keene, Alaska's 'Eagle Lady,' dies at 85
Anchorage Daily News - Homer's Eagle Lady...

Last updated: 8th October 2010
First published: 8th October 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer