Bald Eagle Talons Closeup  Happy New Year Artist Hearts!  It's hard to believe that we are now anticipating all of 2010 fully ahead of us!  Each of us will encounter many different life experiences and hopefully some of those experiences with the deepest impact will in turn be translated into our art work and therefore enrich and inspire many other "Artists Hearts" as well: A fresh and grand opportunity to create work that is written with brushes instead pen and ink.  Stories with subjects that will cause our heart's focus and attention to witness God's creation in a new light and therefore a renewed awe of the glory of our Great Creator God, and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 

Well today's post will focus on the amazing strength and structure of the feet of the Bald Eagle. This spectacular photograph is an up close illustration of the power of these feet, even at the very young age of this Eaglet!  Thanks to the study and education photograph resources available at the Bri Maine Bald Eagle sanctuary we can see the tendons are already well developed.

The Bald Eagle's lifting power is about 4 pounds and their feet are cold resistant, consisting of mostly tendon.  The beak and talons grow continuously, because they are made of keratin, the same substance as our hair and fingernails. The Bald Eagle uses his talons as important tools for hunting and defense.

It is interesting to learn that Eagles can open and close their talons at will. If an eagle is dragged into the water by a fish too large for the eagle to lift, it is because the eagle refuses to release it. In some cases this is due to hunger.  An eagle might drown during the encounter with the fish or if it's unable to swim far enough to reach shore.

The beak, feet, and eyes of the Bald Eagle are bright yellow. Bald eagles have massive tarsi, short and powerful grasping toes, and long knife-like talons. The talon of the hind toe is highly developed in both species, and it is used to pierce their prey.  Courting behavior begins in early April and often involves spectacular aerial displays of eagles diving and locking talons.

So, armed with this bit of background information about their talons will help to guide us in how we draw the feet and then how we paint them.  We need to paint them in such a way as to make their great strength and power come alive as we express that part of the body and continue the story of this particular male Bald Eagle.  Such details will certainly add authenticity to our painting.

In our composition, the feet of this Bald Eagle will be very visible as he lands on the front branch shadowing the nest, with an offering to add a new piece of furniture to the nest and demonstrate nest building behaviour to his adoring son who is basking in the protective cover of his mother's outstretched wing.  Like father, like son!

Well, that is our post for today.  Next time we will continue to build this composition and learn a bit more on the Bald Eagle as a magnificent national emblem of the United States of America, and a great favorite amongst bird lovers here in Canada.  Until then happy painting!