A 6-week-old bald eagle whose birth was viewed on a live webcam by scores of fans has died after enduring snow and cold temperatures in its nest near Big Bear Lake.
The eaglet, known as Cookie, was recently seen looking weak and having difficulty breathing, according to Friends of Big Bear Valley, an environmental group that operates the “nest cam” and announced the death Monday.
A late-season storm brought rain and snow to the San Bernardino National Forest, where the bird nested, with nighttime temperatures dipping to 26 degrees, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement about the eaglet. Hypothermia is suspected as the cause of the death after another one of the eagles was seen struggling to shake off ice that had formed on its body, the statement said.
Cookie was one of two chicks hatched days apart in mid-April as the offspring of mother Jackie and father Shadow, as locals have named the birds. The eaglets’ development was closely monitored through the live-streaming camera, perched 120 feet high in a pine tree in the community of Fawnskin.
The webcam was installed in 2015 as part of an effort to engage the public in preserving the ecosystem in Big Bear Valley, which is within the San Bernardino National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service conducts bald eagle counts to monitor the population each year.
Facebook updates about the bald eagles by Friends of Big Bear Valley generated hundreds of comments, with fans expressing heartbreak and worry regarding the frigid conditions endured by the surviving eaglet, named Simba.
The lives of several other eagles have played out before the nest cam in recent years.
The mortality rate for bald eagles is higher than 50% in the first year of life, according to the U.S. Forest Service.