Big Bear: With all eyes on bald eagles eggs, expert discusses hatching process

With all eyes on the two eggs in the nest of Jackie and Shadow, Big Bear's beloved bald eagles, an expert discussed the hatching process in an interview with ABC7.

Video Transcript

- People around the world have been watching Jackie and Shadow, two bald eagles in Big Bear prepare for their new family. This is a live look at the nest. Unfortunately, though, it appears one of the two eggs has stopped moving after we heard some chirping yesterday. Jackie and Shadow are continuing to take care of that second egg, though, which we're hoping could hatch at any time.

- Yeah. And joining us now to talk about this, Sandy Steers, she's the executive director of Friends of Big Bear valley. And she manages that camera. Sandy, thanks for joining us.

SANDY STEERS: You're welcome. Thank you for having me.

- And it does look like we may have lost one of the hatchlings. Is that pretty common? What is the mortality rate for the eagle eggs?

SANDY STEERS: Yeah. Sadly, eagles in general, only about 50% make it to their first year. And so it's not unusual for hatchlings to not make it. And that's true of all raptors and in some other birds as well. So--

- And Sandy--

SANDY STEERS: --it's part of nature.

- --do we think that the recent snow and the temperatures, they really dipped a couple of weeks ago, do we think that had an impact?

SANDY STEERS: We don't really know. I mean, it's possible that it did. There's all kinds of things that are possible for what happened. And we can't really tell. There's no way to do an autopsy or anything of the chick.

- And Sandy, watching the camera, one thing that's fascinating is mom and dad it seems kind of do equal chores in taking care of the eggs. Is that right?

SANDY STEERS: Yes, they do. They trade off very equally, except that Jackie won't let Shadow sit on the nest at night.

- Wow, that's funny.

- Why is that? Is there some interesting reason for that?

SANDY STEERS: No. Well, it's just that's the way she's always done it, I think. You know, it's she wants to be there and ready. And he's the guard. He roosts on a tree nearby. So in case she ever needs anything, he's nearby and can come in.

- Oh, that's great. How many eagles do you think you have around the Big Bear area now? I mean, they've made such a huge comeback.

SANDY STEERS: So they have-- this actually is the only pair that we have year round. And the others are just visiting eagles that come in from other areas of the country. But they nest elsewhere. This is the only pair that's always here.

- And Sandy, this Eagle Watch-- Eaglet Watch, I should say, has garnered so much attention. Why do you think that is? Why are so many people interested?

SANDY STEERS: People are looking for things to be excited about. Plus I think nature is fascinating. And in this case, they get to see it up close and personal. So they've gotten personally attached. Some people tell us that it's like having-- you know, like they feel like they're part of their family.

- Yeah. And they're just so beautiful, too. Sandy, I have a question. Can you tell them apart? Because usually a male bird and a female bird are very different colors and stuff. But the eagles, they look so similar.

SANDY STEERS: Right. They look just alike. But Jackie, the female, is much bigger. She's about a third bigger than Shadow, the male. And so when they're together, you can tell it easier.

She also has a longer, thicker beak. And her ankles are fatter. You know, it's all little distinctions.

- Don't be making fun of her ankles, Jackie, come on!

[LAUGHTER]

I'll keep that in mind. Yeah. But you have to be a pretty much an expert it sounds like to kind of see those differences.

SANDY STEERS: Yeah. After watching them enough, you get used to their voices are different and things like that, yes.

- Very nice. So we're just waiting on that second egg to hatch. And that could happen at any time soon.

SANDY STEERS: Yes.

- All right. Sandy, thank you so much for talking with us this morning.

- Yeah. And thanks for the wonderful view, Sandy. We appreciate it.