Big Bear eagles welcome fourth egg after losing first three

The pair bond by working together to build up the nest.
(Friends of Big Bear Valley)
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After losing their first three eggs of the breeding season, Big Bear Valley’s celebrity bald eagle couple have another chance at a chick.

Female eagle Jackie delivered an egg at 2:42 p.m. Monday, according to an announcement by the Friends of Big Bear Valley, a nonprofit group.

“Shadow [Jackie’s mate] was by her side for much of the beautiful event. Jackie looks good and is now resting,” the group said in the Facebook post.


Raptor enthusiasts have been following the eagles’ saga on a live-cam feed of the nest, which is perched about 120 feet up a Jeffrey pine tree.

The pair’s first two eggs, which Jackie laid Jan. 6 and Jan. 9, were preyed upon by ravens. Their third egg, laid Jan. 13, broke during the laying process, according to updates from the Friends of Big Bear Valley.

Because Jackie lost the eggs shortly after she laid them, her body was able to “reset” to lay a second clutch, said Teri Ashmore, public liaison for the group.

The size of a bald eagle clutch ranges from one to three eggs. Jackie tends to lay a second egg about three days after the first, which leaves open the possibility of another egg later this week, Ashmore said.

Already, Jackie was observed practicing delayed incubation, when the eggs are left uncovered for a period of time to slow down development, Ashmore said. That way, if the mother lays more eggs, all the chicks in the clutch hatch around the same time and grow at about the same rate.

And Shadow, right on cue, relieved Jackie for incubation duties Tuesday morning, Ashmore said.


Viewers of the nest cam had been upset with him as he was missing in action during one of the raven attacks, Ashmore said.

Normally, ravens won’t dare approach when a bald eagle nest is guarded by the parents.

It was unclear why Shadow wasn’t guarding the nest or why both eagles seemed distracted during the raven attacks, but Ashmore speculated people below the nest might have played a role.

The area surrounding Jackie and Shadow’s nest is closed to the public during breeding season, but people disregard the order to play in the snow, she said, especially this winter as they head outdoors for socially distanced activities.

“They may be disturbing the eagles,” Ashmore said. “It happens every year, but this year has been worse because of COVID.”