“Hi, My Name is Skye”: Local author and photographer makes bald eagle book

Jane Aguilar Murphy may be an employee for Rockland County, but her real passion is birds—bald eagles, to be exact. The nature-lover’s fascination with these creatures runs so deep that she recently wrote and published “Hi, My Name is Skye,” a children’s book documenting a real baby bald eagle’s journey to leaving the nest with the help of his parents, using her own photographs.

Though Murphy has doubled as a photographer for decades, she became interested in raptors (birds of prey) after seeing the famous red-tailed hawk Pale Male in New York City in the 2000s. From then on, she took every opportunity to travel to locations where bald eagles—another type of raptor—could be found. So when word got around in 2019 that there was a bald eagles’ nest on Strawtown Road in West Nyack, Murphy jumped at the chance to visit.

“Years ago when I was photographing, I never thought I’d be able to find a bald eagles’ nest in Rockland County, let alone photograph a baby,” Murphy said. “That’s been a dream of mine, to photograph a baby bald eagle. And here it was, right in my own backyard!”

Photographing the Nest

In November 2020, Murphy started taking pictures of the two parents bringing new twigs to the nest to prepare for the baby eagle, which they had in mid-January of 2021. After the egg hatched in mid-April, the most intense portion of Murphy’s photography began.

For five to six hours at a time from that point to mid-June (when the baby fledged, or left the nest for the first time), Murphy would stand under the eagles’ tree—100 feet away by law—documenting the family’s every move. The process, she emphasizes, was riveting.

“It’s amazing how quick the baby grows—it went from six or eight inches to a full-size adult when it fledged in two months,” Murphy recalled. “I photographed it from the beginning to the end, when it was practicing its little fledging in the nest, jumping up and down…The parents would come into the nest and flap their wings, and then the baby would flap his wings. They showed him everything he needed to know so that when he fledged, he would be safe and wouldn’t hurt himself.”

The Book

While Murphy had often considered creating a project with her photographs, for a long time she wasn’t quite sure how to approach the task. However, one day in early 2023 on her lunch break, the words for a children’s picture book on the West Nyack baby eagle’s story started “pouring out.”

After typing up the notes she scribbled on paper napkins, Murphy showed her first draft to friends, incorporating their feedback. She then reached out to Volossal, a self-publishing company based in California.

In September of 2023, Murphy finally had “Hi, My Name is Skye” in her hands—a feeling, she says, that remains gratifying for this “labor of love.” She has since sold approximately 70 books and has given copies to nature centers and libraries in Rockland for their children’s sections. Copies of “Hi, My Name is Skye” can be ordered from Barnes & Noble’s website, as well as lulu.com/shop.

“I’d just love for them to get the love of nature,” Murphy said, referring to her younger audience. “To go out, look around, see what’s flying by…I want everybody to get into nature and realize that we have amazing animals in our own backyard.”

Jane Aguilar Murphy with copies of her book, photo provided
The growing bald eagle flaps his wings, photo provided

You must be logged in to post a comment Login