'Eagle Lady' Keeps Birds Coming Back

Jean Keene has fed the eagles in her town every day for almost 30 years.

Aug. 28, 2007 — -- In the fishing town of Homer, Alaska, the scene mimics the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds."

Eagles are seen sitting on poles and even nesting next to homes. But unlike the movie, these birds are Homer's feathered friends, thanks to 83-year-old Jean Keene.

Locals know Keene as "the Eagle Lady," and she is the person responsible for drawing the bevy of birds to the small town.

"The minute I throw the food out, they are all out here," she said.

For around three decades Keene has fed the birds nearly every morning from her bayfront home.

"When I came up here, I threw scraps out," she said. "I don't like to see anything go to waste. And a couple, three eagles came, and that is how it all started."

What began as feeding two or three birds, grew into feeding 200 or 300 flighty friends. The birds' numbers grew especially big in the winter when it's hard for them to find food.

And feeding the animals has made Keene a sort of celebrity. She has a book, a video and has even appeared on "The Daily Show."

All of the attention attracted tourists to the town, who in turn fed the birds even more.

Foul Fowl

Some residents cried foul, believing the situation was getting out of control.

"You know there is a real problem with the eagles," said former city council member Val McClay. He sat on the council two years ago when he thought something should be done about it.

He said humans feeding wild eagles is just not right.

"This is not natural," McClay said.

So he got a law passed banning the eagle feeding. Today no one can feed them within the city limits. But there is one exception. Officials gave special consideration to Keene.

"Jean Keene has been doing this for so long that to take it away from her, this is the only thing that she has in her life to keep her going," McClay said.

And being the exception is all right for Keene, who said she'll continue feeding the eagles.

"I will be 84 soon. I don't know how much longer my old bones are gong to let me do it, but I am going to try for a few more years anyway," she said.

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