Mission Accomplished – American Bald Eagle is an attempt to capture the spirit of this National Emblem as it hunts for a winter meal. The painting is derived from hours of research photography that Larry completed during the winter and spring of 2020 while watching eagles feed in the discharge waters below Saylorville Reservoir outside Ankeny, Iowa.
Larry shared the inspiration that drove his painting of Mission Accomplished – American Bald Eagle:
“Watching the eagles battle the elements on a freezing winter day, I often pondered the parallels to our current battle with the COVID-19 virus. Characteristics such as strength, vision, fearlessness, tenacity, perseverance, patience and problem solving come to mind.”
“I like to photograph in the soft, warm, morning light, even though in the dead of winter it may be cold and blustery. After the shoot, I get to go back to my cozy studio, enlarge the images on my computer screen, and study frozen moments in time as these magnificent birds go about their lives. It is amazing how often they are keeping a keen eye on me as they fly by!”
There is always more to learn, and Larry loves observing the eagles' changing behavior through the seasons.
In the fall, he commonly finds them in southern Iowa taking advantage of Iowa’s whitetail deer hunting season cleaning up gut piles and picking scraps off boned out deer. Setting up trail cameras on these deer carcasses provides Zach with a window into the many species that take advantage of the late fall and winter food source. Upon checking an SD card from a camera set out for a month, Larry found an amazing 20,771 photos including several bald eagles, a rare golden eagle, a bobcat with an Iowa DNR radio collar, a black house cat, a rough-legged hawk, red-tailed hawks, a great horned owl, raccoons, opossum, crows and miscellaneous songbirds.
The colder it gets in Iowa each winter, the more extensively the ice covers open water. This limits fishing opportunities for bald eagles, thus concentrating them in the few remaining open water spots such as reservoir outlets. This can provide exciting times for photographers willing to bear the conditions. "The coldest mornings of the winter can be the most productive for photo opportunities but the most challenging to stay warm!" says Larry.
Zach has also studied bald eagle behavior on several trips to Alaska. One of Larry's most memorable trips included photographing bald eagles in Sitka, Alaska, on a combination research/fishing trip. None of the species of salmon had yet started their spawning runs for the year, thus the local eagles were short on food. Upon returning from fishing each day, the guide would take the filleted fish and throw them out for the eagles. The eagles had picked up on the rare opportunity and 30 or more eagles would compete for the limited food supply. Between catching king salmon, halibut, ling cod and rock fish all day and photographing eagles in the evening, Larry was in heaven! Ending each evening with a little wine, gourmet food and good friends made it even better.
Limited Edition Master Canvas
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