Watch: Three bald eagles could hatch any day now

All eyes are on two new avian internet celebrities and their cozy home in Southern California. Three bald eagle chicks could hatch any day now from their nest atop a Jeffrey pine tree overlooking Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles. Onlookers from near and far can follow along via a live stream monitored and maintained by the nonprofit Friends of Big Bear Valley.

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CREDIT: Friends of Big Bear Valley

The eggs were laid in late January by a bald eagle named Jackie. According to the nonprofit Friends of Big Bear Valley, she sat on the eggs for over two and a half days when the region was hit with a snowstorm. She sat there keeping those eggs warm for 61 hours and 58 minutes without a single break. Incubating duties have been shared with their father, Shadow, who has also supplied Jackie with plenty of fish

The nest is about five feet across and five feet deep and offers beautiful lake and mountain views. According to the nonprofit,  a three-egg clutch like this is rare for bald eagles and is a first for Jackie. Biologists monitoring the situation are watching for a “pip.”

“The pip is when there’s a visible bump or crack in the eggshell that we can see,” biologist and Friends of Big Bear Valley executive director Sandy Steers told the Los Angeles Times. “Even when there’s a pip, it’s going to take at least a day—sometimes longer—for the chick to hatch. With nature, we need to be patient. It can teach us to just breathe and enjoy the process instead of focusing on the result.”

March 1 officially marks 36 days since the first egg was laid and Jackie’s eggs have previously piped at 38 and 39 days.

The weather is also adding to the excitement and anticipation. Another winter storm is barreling towards the region, with a winter storm watch posted for Big Bear Lake for the evening of Friday March 1 through the afternoon of Sunday March 3. Because of the storm, it is possible that the hatching will happen off camera, as Jackie or Shadow will sit on the nest to keep them protected from the cold and wet weather. Adult eagles have about 7,000 waterproof feathers that should help keep the chicks warm if they hatch in the storm. 

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This nest camera was installed in 2015 by Friends of Big Bear Valley and documents breeding successes and failures every season. In that time, Jackie and Shadow have laid five eggs that have produced eggs. In January 2023, Jackie laid eggs and spent weeks incubating them. The two then began to leave them unattended. Ravens breached the eggs in March, but revealed no obvious signs of development inside. Only about 50 percent of bald eagle eggs hatch.

The large and iconic American bald eagle has been brought back from the brink of extinction. According to the American Eagle Foundation, there were only 417 known nesting pairs in the lower 48 states in 1963. Since then, it has since skyrocketed to at least 316,700 known individual bald eagles, including 71,400 nesting pairs. Banning the pesticide DDT and other conservation measures enforced during the 1970s have helped the species rebound. However, they are still in danger of lead poisoning, bird flu, habitat destruction, and collisions with human made infrastructure. 

This is a developing story, please check back for updates. 

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