Hope Fades As Celebrity Bald Eagle Eggs Unlikely To Hatch
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Hope Fades As Celebrity Bald Eagle Eggs Unlikely To Hatch

The Friends of Big Bear Valley eagle nest livecam captured Jackie and Shadow on March 7.

Friends of Big Bear Valley

Jackie and Shadow, a bald eagle couple that have become internet celebrities, continue to sit on three eggs high up in a pine tree in Big Bear Valley in California. Their efforts, however, may be in vain. It’s past time for when the eggs should have hatched. Thousands of viewers still watch the raptor nest via livecam on YouTube, but hope for babies is fading.

Jackie laid the eggs in late January. Nonprofit support organization Friends of Big Bear Valley runs the livestream camera and declared February 29 to be the start of “pip watch.” Pipping is a baby bird’s first peck through its shell during hatching. It’s now well past the expected pipping date for the eggs. FOBBV says it’s “unlikely” the eggs will hatch.

The eagles have a high profile online with about a million followers on YouTube and FOBBV’s Facebook page. At any given time, there can be 20,000 viewers watching the live nest feed, and sometimes many more. The camera operates all day and night, giving humans a wide window into Jackie and Shadow’s complex relationship dynamics.

While humans have accepted the failure of the eggs, the birds are still exchanging egg-sitting duties. They have a cooperative relationship that involves both birds building and expanding the nest. They share fish and sometimes fuss over who gets to be on egg duty. One of Shadow’s favorite tactics is to bring a stick into the nest and place it on Jackie to encourage her to take a break.

Bald eagles Jackie and Shadow have three eggs in 2024.

Friends of Big Bear Valley

The eagles successfully hatched and raised chicks in 2019 and 2022. This year’s saga is a repeat of what happened in 2023 when the eagle couple’s two eggs failed to hatch. “As to why the eggs have not hatched, we have no way of knowing,” FOBBV executive director Sandy Steeds wrote in an update on March 11. “It could be environmental, such as temperatures, humidity percentages, oxygen levels at high altitude, etc. It could be biological with something just being off at the time the eggs were created.”

The FOBBV team is aware of how online bird watchers feel invested in the parenting journey. “Thank you to each and every one of you for continuing to enjoy Jackie and Shadow and for your continued support and understanding even in the midst of all the emotional turmoil that nature can sometimes trigger inside us,” said Steeds.

Jackie and Shadow have become mascots for Big Bear Valley, a biologically diverse area inside the San Bernardino National Forest. Their massive nest is located 145 feet up in a pine tree. It’s a very different existence than what humans are used to, but the birds have proven to be relatable. Their Facebook fans have been sharing feelings of disappointment and sadness, but also an appreciation for the birds and the livecam. “Jackie and Shadow and their journey are still here,” said Steeds. “They continue doing what they do best, being eagles and taking care of what they have in front of them in each moment.”