Monday, July 15, 2024
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How to watch beloved Big Bear bald eagles hatch their chicks

Two California bald eagles are expecting their chicks to hatch any day now.

Jackie and Shadow – a pair of bald eagles nested in a pine tree by Big Bear Lake, California – have developed an online following ever since Sandy Steers, an executive director for the non-profit organisation Friends of Big Bear Valley (FOBBV), installed a 24-hour eagle cam back in 2015.

On the livestream, Jackie and Shadow can typically be seen taking turns sitting in their six-foot-wide nest, protecting their brood from snowstorms, freezing temperatures, and high-risk winds. Now, attention on Jackie and Shadow has reached a fever pitch with news that they’re expecting to hatch some chicks within the next few days.

While Jackie has laid several eggs over the past six years with Shadow, only two that have survived – increasing the stakes for the pair, given that bald eagles remain endangered in California.

Jackie has also laid an unprecedented three eggs during a single nesting period, and the bald eagles’ 668,000 Facebook followers are on the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens. According to Steers, the eagle livestream has become so popular because people are connecting with Jackie and Shadow. She explained to NBC: “It reminds them of their own life or something in their life, and they like to see that happening.”

Interested viewers can tune into the delightful and sweet antics of the befeathered couple through the non-profit’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Many users have taken to the comments section to add their observations and share their love for the eagles.

As a biologist, Steers told the outlet that the pair “have emotional responses to things that are different than other times,” and there are simply emotions and reactions that are universally recognised. She added that she’s seen “Shadow stand and look over broken eggs and just stand there and it cannot be anything except an emotion.”

Steers has observed bald eagles since 2012 after learning from US Forest Service rangers about a tiny eaglet hatched in a nest at Big Bear. “I stood out there for hours every day – even in the snow, no matter what was going on – because I just wanted to see what happened,” Steers said. “The whole thing was fascinating to me.”

The little eaglet Steers watched day in and day out would end up being Jackie. Having watched her from a young age, Steers ended up installing the eagle cam to keep tabs on her and her burgeoning family.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the bald eagle has been removed from the list of threatened and endangered species since 8 August 2007. However, the bald eagle remains endangered in California, and is classifed as a “fully protected bird” under state law.

Bald eagles nationwide are protected by both the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which prohibit the killing, selling or otherwise harming eagles, their nests, or eggs. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has recently revised a rule on permit regulations that allow for the take of eagles and eagle nests under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Populations of the birds have dwindled to dangerously low levels due to the widespread use of toxic pesticide DDT in the decades post-World War II. DDT caused abnormalities in bald eagle eggshells, compromising both the nesting and hatching process, and leading populations to decline. Bald eagles have also faced upheaval concerning human disturbances and habitat modification from road, housing, as well as threats from timber harvest, electrocution and collision at power lines, and hunting.

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