Lifestyle & Human Interest

'Hard to Watch': Mating Pair of Bald Eagles Lose Newly Hatched Baby as It Dies Still in Eggshell


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

With modern technology, there are many opportunities for us to peek into the lives of creatures we would never otherwise encounter. Thousands of people have now witnessed giraffe birth as Animal Adventure Park live-streamed April the giraffe’s births.

Another current viewing opportunity is the live stream offered by the Friends of Big Bear Valley and Big Bear Eagle Nest Cam, which have been tracking the progress of a mating pair of bald eagles, Jackie, 9, and Shadow, 7, whose nest is in a tree at Big Bear Lake, California.

Many people have been watching as the two nested, often clumsily but tenderly, and prepared the area for young. There was excitement as eggs appeared in January 2021, but then tragedy befell them.

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Jackie laid three eggs in January 2021, and all of them were lost. According to KTLA-TV, two of the eggs were attacked by ravens, and the third was accidentally broken while being laid.

In fact, Jackie didn’t hatch out any eaglets the year before, either. She laid two eggs in January 2020, and neither of them hatched.

So when two more eggs were laid this year after losing the initial three, there was hope again. And on March 18, 2021, the next big visible step took place.

We have a pip!” the eagle watch group posted on March 18, 2021. “Hatching in progress!!

The news was met by over 23,000 reactions and was followed by more encouraging footage as the chick continued to chirp from inside the egg.

Sadly, things did not go well for the chick, and the next day the group posted the sad update.

“Watching nature often fills us with curiosity and adventure, with joy and delight,” the group shared. “Sometimes nature is hard to watch, especially when there is an unexpected turn of events that we do not understand. The chick in the first egg that was working on hatching last night, appears to have stopped moving this afternoon. This is very sad and also, it is part of nature.

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“We do not know and cannot know what might have happened, no matter how much our human minds would like to speculate or try to figure it out. With this nest camera, we are observers of nature. We have been granted the privilege of watching the daily lives of this beautiful pair of bald eagles. I am willing to watch and to learn and to both laugh and to cry at the things that we see here.

“Jackie and Shadow are continuing to diligently take care of the second egg … we will watch and see what happens next. Thank you all for your great interest in and love of watching Jackie and Shadow in their daily lives. We appreciate your dedication and support.”

“Though we are still in the window of possibility for hatching, with each passing day it is less likely,” the group wrote. “We will continue to observe, but sadly we believe by Friday that window will close. We do not and cannot know the why for any of this. It is nature, operating in its own way, without explanation.”

Despite the disappointment of the egg losses, so many people have been able to view a secret world that they would otherwise never get the opportunity to see. They’ve gotten to learn a bit about the behavior of nesting eagles, and read amusing updates detailing Shadow’s often clumsy attempts at nest building.

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