Two eggs laid by a pair of nesting bald eagles in California are the latest symbol of success for the once-imperiled species
18 January 2023
A pair of bald eagles nesting in Big Bear Valley in southern California welcomed their second egg during an online video feed on 17 January. The female eagle, named Jackie, laid their first egg six days earlier. The nest camera is one of a handful of its kind around the country that give scientists and members of the public a window into how bald eagles live, hunt and rear their young.
Once a pair of bald eagles bond, they typically mate for life and only seek out a new partner if their previous one dies. Successful pairs produce two eggs each year, which are laid and hatch roughly three to five days apart. While the female eagle is the primary egg incubator, the male partner often steps in to help. The non-profit group Friends of Big Bear Valley, which operates the camera, says both Jackie and her partner Shadow have been sharing incubation duties in their nest, which is about 44 metres high in a Jeffrey pine tree (Pinus jeffreyi).
An icon of US conservation, bald eagles have made a remarkable recovery since the species was driven to the edge of extinction in the 1960s, largely due to eggshell damage from the now-banned insecticide DDT. With protections afforded by the US Endangered Species Act, the birds have recovered over the past six decades from around 600 individuals in the lower 48 states to more than 300,000.
Those eager to see the chicks hatch will have to wait roughly 35 days for the eggs to incubate. When they hatch, the chicks will break through their shells with a specialised point on their beak called an egg tooth. But be prepared to settle in for long-haul viewing: eagle chicks can take hours or days to fully emerge from their shells.
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