Monday, March 29, 2010

Soaring regards: Jean Keene

I received the book that Cary Anderson promised to send me about Jean Keene, the Eagle Lady. I've taken a picture of the book's title page, and his words, "Soaring regards" really hit me. She was a wonderful and very colorful person who deserves to be remembered forever.

The book begins with some absolutely stunning pictures of eagles and of the Homer Spit where Jean lived alone (well, sort of, she did have a lot of eagle friends) for twenty-some years. And then it tells the story of her early life, which is also covered really well on her Wikipedia page. The American Bald Eagle Information website also has a page devoted to her dedication to the eagles.

I was fascinated by the pictures in the book, glossy high-definition pictures of eagles in flight, eagles in huge numbers waiting to be fed, and some majestic head shots of this beautiful bird. Cary Anderson has also included a breathtaking picture of the Aurora Borealis.

Anderson has told the action-packed story of Jean's life and left a legacy for all to enjoy. I highly recommend this book to you, and if you do order it from him, I don't see how you could possibly be disappointed. His website, Eagle Eye Pictures, has portraits you can order, pictures of eagles, reptiles, and other wildlife, including some portraits of people.

Jean lived a full life, passing away at 85, after a career that included being a trick rider in a rodeo, being one of the first female long-haul truck drivers, owner and waitress at her truck stop restaurant, until she found her true calling as a friend to the eagles. From the time she moved to Homer in 1977 until her death in 2009, she hauled an estimated 500 pounds of fish every day from winter to early spring to the Spit to feed them. They go off on their own for summer and fall.

From the Homer Tribune Top Ten Stories of 2009:
End of Eagle Era - Eagle Lady Jean Keene, arguably one of Homer’s most famous citizens, died Jan. 14 at the age of 85. Friends and photographers around the world mourned her passing, but the eagles she devoted her life to feeding continued to roost around her Homer Spit home. That sparked concern from wildlife officials on whether the eagle-feeding should end so abruptly. After much public input, debate and discussion, the Homer City Council voted to let Keene’s assistant continue the feeding as a way to wean them off free fish lunches. Council then enacted a ban on eagle-feeding into law, taking effect March 29. (Photo by Cary Anderson)
 I wonder what they did when they returned in late 2009 and she was gone. She had a favorite eagle, Betsy, that she speculated had spent part of her life in captivity, because Betsy was "uncommonly tame" and would perch on a fence just a few feet away of her. I like to think that is Betsy in the picture above.

Fly free, Jean, and I will think of you soaring with your eagles forever. I will see your spirit in flight with them whenever I see one.


  1. An wonderful story of a remarkable woman. The photos are amazing.

  2. What a wonderful life she lived! And what a gentle soul she must have been...Truly remarkable! Thank you so much for telling this story! So fascinating! Loved it! ~Janine XO

  3. Wow! She was quite a character! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  4. What a nice tribute to her..I had heard of her and was amazed by her and her eagles.

  5. Some people are just extra special. She is one of those. That picture is breathtaking!

  6. Amazing! I cannot imagine the dedication. What a special soul.

  7. Jean was a true Alaskan character, she had an amazing life. I wish I could have met her on one of my trips to Homer.


I really appreciate your comments! If you see a word verification box here, just ignore it. I don't use the darn thing and Blogger is trying to get us to use it, I guess. Ignore it and your comment will still appear.