The Alaska filtered photo image “Soaring” came to be in Gustavus, Alaska during summer, 2022. Being an Alaskan artist in a small Southeast community I am lucky to be surrounded by the natural beauty of the rainforest, and get my inspiration from the wild land and the creatures who make this place their home, including the fierce American Bald Eagle.

This image has special meaning for me.  I wanted to focus on the feeling evoked by the sweep of open sky and the outspread wings of the eagle.  I included this flying eagle artwork as the image for the month of January in the 2024 calendar to start the new year with that grand feeling.  It’s also fitting to feature an eagle this week as a tribute to the success of the Endangered Species Act voted into US law 50 years ago. Because of the changes to environmental policies and attitudes since that time, populations of this bird and many other species have been brought back to healthy numbers all across the country.

Here’s the story behind my image:

We’ve got a clear sky day for our afternoon walkabout across the meadow and down to the river.  It’s late in the season, but there’s still some coho salmon coming through, which means fishers of all stripes, from the land and sky and water.

I see several of our eagle neighbors perched in the tall spruce at the river’s edge, looking for lunch.  This year’s young have fledged several months ago, and more or less have their basic flying skills down.  Still on the agenda is learning to feed themselves, so there’s a fair amount of activity going on back and forth from the riverbank to the lower spruce branches.

The young eagles reach full size in their first year, but don’t get their white heads and tails until they reach five years of age.  Until then, they are a mottled brown all over, gangly and awkward, especially as they hop about on the sandbar, waiting for a scrap of salmon to be thrown their way. (For a view of immature eagles, see image #2213 “Look Both Ways”)

There’s a pause in the action on the riverbank and I glance overhead to see one of the mature adults gliding silently by.  Quickly bringing my camera up for the shot, I catch the detail of wingtips spread in a full embrace of wind and sky, feeling for a short moment just a hint of the freedom and grace and power of the soaring eagle.  Click goes the shutter and then too soon, I lower my camera and land back on the earth to walk another day, and not to fly.  Still, the magic of the moment lingers as we make our way back to the house on this late summer afternoon.

Artwork by Alaskan Artist Lillian Ruedrich. Love this image?  Buy it here as a 5×7 blank notecard, or here as the January image in the 2024 calendar. Click to purchase more Unique Alaska Artwork for sale.