This bald eagle returns each year to Oktibbeha County, to âhis straw castleâ which he carefully served as architect and contractorÂ I am sure that he is very proud of his fine construction.Â We are very fortunate that this bald eagle pays Oktibbeha County a âreturn visitâ each year and he is fine representative of America.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
This American bald eagle is fast becoming extinct.Â This is the bald eagle that comes to the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge each year to make a nest and find refuge there.Â This nest is in the top of a Cypress Tree among the large Cypress Trees there.
A bald eagle is âany various large diurnal birds of prey belonging to the family, Accipitride, renown for keen vision and powerful flight. The Talon (his foot claws and heel),Â 30â-31â (76-79 cm)-weightâ 6â-7â 6â (1.8.Â 2.3 m).Â A large blackish/brown eagle with a white head and tail and a heavy yellow bill. Young birds lack the white head and tail and resemble adult Golden Eagles, but are variably marked with white and have a black more massive bill. Their voice is squeaky and crackling, and thin squeals. Habitat, lakes, rivers, marshes and seacoasts are places where they nest. They est two or three white eggs in a massive nest of sticks in a tall tree or, less frequently, on top of a cliff.Â Range breaks from Alaska east to Newfoundland and south locally to California, theGreat Lakes and Virginia, also in Arizona along the Gulf Coast, and in Florida, formally more widespread. They winter along coasts and large rivers in much of the United States.â
Â âFollowing a dramatic decline caused by pesticides, our national bird is now making a slow but steady come back, and once again nests in areas where it was wiped out during the 1960âs, however it is not as numerous as it was in Colonial times, when it was a familiar sight along almost every coastline, bald eagles could be seen eating fish. They also pursue their prey and they rarely enter the water, but instead snatch the fish from the surface with their talons (heals and claws).Â The bald eagles obtain much of their food by stealing it from the smaller Â âFish Hawk.â
In 1970 Burton Webster was the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge manager.Â He and his familyâ his sweet wife and three children â actually lived in a home provided to them by our government right there on the grounds of our refuge on the banks of Bluff Lake.Â I often thought, ânow this is âHome On The Refugeâ...and in a way like the song, âHome On The Rangeâ was to me... and to them... more like âA Home In Paradise.ââÂ Think of falling asleep to the sounds of a âSymphony of Frogsâ at night, and waking up to a âSymphony of Birdsâ each morning.Â Think of the stillness and the quietness of a wildlife refuge where your âclose-byâ and âonlyâ neighbors were trees, plants and animals.Â It must be lovely and lonely too at times.
Â I knew that the bald eagle had become a âpermanent residentâ along side the Webster Family home, and I wanted to paint his portrait.Â With the help of Mr. Webster we located and found âMy Bald Eagleâ there near by...theÂ WebsterÂ homeÂ on the Refuge.Â We found that âMoma Eagleâ and âDaddy Eagleâ had drawn out their plans for their new house, their âEagle Nest Homeâ with very great attention to their special design of just what they wanted as a âCouple Of Birdsâ toÂ build and construct as their ânew homeâ to raise their new family that year, 1970, of baby bald eagles. The bald eagles were âmoving inâ to become the Websterâs newest neighbors.
They chose a sturdy very tip top of a big and old Cypress Tree in the far distance away from the Websterâs family home in the far, far distance almost away from all human beings.Â I remember it was across Bluff Lake from Mr. Websterâs office. Today we have a brand new Visitorâs Center, and you, âa visitorâ to this beautiful center and Wildlife âstuffedâ museum of animals on the Refuge...you can often see a bald eagle if you walk out on the wooden patio that is in the back of this Visitorsâs Center, and go to the strong binoculars attached to the side of the fenced railing part of the patio. Just look up and into the sky towards an old Cypress Tree, and you might see a bald eagle about spring time âscouting outâ his and her new âhome siteâ for their new home for the year.
The Bald Eagleâs portrait was absolutely my honor and quite a delight to first sketch and paint.Â Look at his beautiful and very handsome white face. Look at his facial features. Look into his determined eyes and his golden/yellow bill.Â His white almost fluffy top of his head white feathers around his neck which is held high and sturdy as if he is indeed a âa king with great majesty.â He looks veryâ âroyalâ and âking-lyâ to me.Â His strong body is filled with brownish/black feathers mixed in with the beautiful Indian Red colors. His bird legs look very firmly âplantedâ on the Cypress limb and his talons, his yellow feet and heels of his claw feet are holding on very tightly to the limb as if he is just waiting for the next strong wind gust to not blow âhim off into the wind.âÂ His talons are grasping the bark of that limb oh so tightly.Â His white tail matches his white colored head.
The nest was âflown inâ by âMoma Bald Eagleâ and âDaddy Bald Eagleâ...each stick by stick...one at a time. It looks as if each stick was woven into intricate patterns to fit perfectly as if they were actually âBrick Layersâ laying the foundation for their new... âstick homeâ on the Refuge.Â
I am sure they wanted to be âgood and friendly neighborsâ to the Webster family ...cause they just knew that Mr. and Mrs. Webster and their three children would be serving as âthe Welcome Wagon Familyâ coming soon to pay they a âwelcoming visitâ to the neighborhood.
Â The Cypress tree and limbs offerÂ a âbeautyâ all of its very own.Â Look at all the colors of the various shades of the grey tree trunk.Â Look deeply into the trunk of the light greens, light Cerelean Blue..and Mint Greens to the Turquoise Green/Blue.Â Look at the dark browns of the big limb that Mr. Bald Eagle is âperched uponâ as your eye travels on to the top of the pointed Cypress Tree itself.Â Look at the touches of Ivory Black and dark browns and Indian Browns that you find both in the body feathers of Mr. Bald Eagle and within the limbs and of course these same colors are in and out of the carefully woven nest... âhomeâ of âThe Bald Eaglesâ.Â I even wondered it they Â would they hang a swinging Â sign reading... âThe home of the bald eaglesâ...at least we can use our imagination and see ...Â that there is such a sign âdanglingâ in the breeze up so high attached to the smaller limb of the Cypress Tree.Â The Webster family had a âWebsterâs Homeâ sign and they should âhang outâ a âshingled signâ too. Agree?
Here they were, âthe bald eagle familyâ all settled in their âhome nest.â Â It would take their young about a year to mature. They were happy on the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge, cause they could find lots of food in Bluff Lake to feed their family.Â They had tremendous eyesight.Â When they saw a fish swimming in the lake...they would âtargetâ with their eyes and swoop down and âgo fishingâ for that particular fish.Â Everyone was making them feel âright at homeâ in the tall Cypress tree.Â You might say, âthey loved living at the refuge.âÂ It had become a real ârefuge,â a safe place to be to fly freely and with the knowledge that they were âsafe and sound.âÂ They had grown very fond of their near by...new neighbors, The Webster Family and those three Webster children were delightful to have around.Â When their new babies arrived...they just knew that the Webster children would become good friends with their âyoung bird babiesâ too.
I remember signing my name and the year only on the bottom of my huge canvasÂ as 1970.Â
As I write this story for you to enjoy along with this painting...I thought back to another year... 10 years plus one year later... to an exact day, which was February 9, 1981.Â Our family ofÂ five, âBig Frank,â âLittle Frankâ... who was 13 at the time, McReynolds...whoÂ was seven at the time, and Elizabeth...who was only two at the time and myself had spent the last sixÂ months inÂ The Philippine Islands.Â Frank had been âloanedâ from the USAÂ government to the The Ford and Rockefeller Institute called IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) to design and set up a Rearing Laboratory to ârear insectsâ for the study of rice insects at this institute.Â Did we miss the goodÂ âole United States Of America...Â IÂ was 39 years old at the time and had never really been anywhere except to Presbyterian Church Camps in the summertime.Â Never been too far from Starkville.Â
Frank wasÂ 42Â at the time, and he hadÂ been born andÂ grown up inÂ the Mississippi Delta out of Greenwood, in a tinyÂ spot called, Money. It did have a post office,Â and just a couple of years ago, closed thisÂ post office down.Â WeÂ had traveledÂ aroundÂ the worldÂ ...thousands of miles...and spent the last sixÂ months in a third world countryÂ in aÂ place called Los Banos, the University of the Philippines at Los Banos...about one hour from the huge city of over 11 millionÂ Philippinos...Manila, Philippines.
WeÂ toured lots of countriesÂ near and by TheÂ Philippines asÂ well as Europe beforeÂ weÂ came back home. We left London, England with our destination to be Atlanta, Ga.Â We were taking a northern route back to the USA.Â We flew over Greenland to Canada then turned south along the eastern coastÂ line of Nova Scotia andÂ crossed huge mountains before we got into the Smokie MountainÂ Ranges.Â We remember the day as bright, sunny, and very clear with a very high visibility.Â We were all lookingÂ with great excitement and anticipation ...Â as we were entering the United States of America air once againÂ after ourÂ long six months stay in The Philippine Islands.Â SuddenlyÂ we all looked down and into the sky below us and saw with ourÂ eyesÂ the most beautiful bald eagleÂ soaring andÂ flying right below our airplane wings.Â We could actually see his white head, his yellow bill and his out-stretched wings as he was almostÂ just âsailing alongâ almost effortless in the wind right below andÂ veryÂ clearly visually below our huge jet airplane.Â Everyone got up from their seats to look out to see the bald eagle.Â He was safely some distance from us, but we could see him... oh so clearly.Â Â We wiped our tearsÂ from our cheeks, and we each said to one another, âthe bald eagle is welcoming us back after six long months to home sweet home. He is flying with us to our beloved home, America.â
The bald eagle, our emblem of our national bird, is truly, and without a doubt, âking of the air.â