After almost 30 years of feeding the eagles on the Homer Spit Jean Keene has passed away Tuesday evening, January 13, 2009. She was 85 and loved by people all over the world. She was a truly remarkable woman - a woman who lived by her convictions, had the courage and faith to follow her dreams and the strength to live a life most only dream of.
In Loving Memory of Jean Keene, the Eagle Lady
The facts of her life are pretty amazing but for those of us who knew and loved her we'll always remember her indomitable spirit, a heart the size of Alaska and her compassion for all living creatures. Here's to you Jean - as you soar with the eagles in Heaven. You will be missed.
Jean Keene - "the Eagle Lady" - A Life Well Lived
On a remote spit in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, a remarkable woman cares for hundreds of bald eagles. Jean Keene, dubbed the “Eagle Lady,” feeds more than 250 bald eagles every day from her feeding station near Homer. And she’s been doing it since 1977!
Jean is a feisty redhead who started out as a horseback trick rider, appearing at rodeos across the U.S. and Canada in the 1950s. She went on to have careers as a cattle driver, trucker, truck-stop operator, and—finally—Alaska fish processor and eagle feeder. She got her start with the eagles when she asked her fish-processing facility if she could have the throw-away fish parts to feed the eagles. The more she offered, the more the eagles flocked to her.
Today, Jean offers up several hundred pounds of codfish heads and salmon carcasses. Fish that is freezer-burned or otherwise unsellable goes to the eagles. The birds fill the sky as they swoop down to fight over the bounty, calling out their thanks to Jean.
A dedicated animal-lover, Jean feeds more than just eagles. She has bird feeders full of seeds for finches and other songbirds. Jean doesn’t discriminate in her love for animals. Her motto is if you feed one, you’ve got to feed them all.
It can get awfully cold in Alaska, especially during the winter when temperatures can drop to forty below. But for over 25 years, Jean Keene has braved all kinds of weather to feed her beloved animals. Nothing, not intrusive photographers, tourists, or biting winds can make her miss a day of feeding. Today, Jean is the only person in Homer who is allowed to feed eagles, according to a special provision passed by the Homer City Council in 2006. So long as Jean keeps feeding them, the eagles will have a steady source of food on the Kenai Peninsula.