Animals and Insects

First egg tended by internet-famous bald eagle pair may not hatch

An eagle expert said the first of three eggs had now exceeded the usual incubation time for bald eagle eggs.

A remote camera image released by Friends of Big Bear Valley shows bald eagles Jackie and Shadow with their eggs
Bald eagles Jackie and Shadow with their eggs.
Friends of Big Bear Valley / AP
SMS

The first egg laid by a pair of bald eagles in California's Big Bear Valley is not likely to be viable or to hatch, an eagle expert said on Thursday.

In an interview with KTLA, Big Bear eagle expert Sandy Steers said the first of the eggs was laid more than 38 days previously, which is longer than bald eagle eggs are typically incubated before hatching.

The other eggs, Steers said, may still be healthy and could go on to hatch. 

The eagle family has gathered national attention as the potential hatching of new chicks draws closer. Viewers have watched the birds on a nest camera as they look after a clutch of eggs.

In January, the bald eagle mother, who has been named Jackie, laid three eggs in a tree overlooking Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. 

For more than a month, she's been tending to the eggs, keeping them warm even as a winter storm brought snow to the area. 

Friends of Big Bear Valley, which installed the nest camera in 2015, told The Associated Press that Jackie once spent nearly 62 hours straight incubating her eggs. However, the father, who has been dubbed Shadow, has also been seen caring for the eggs. 

This is the second year in a row that Jackie and Shadow hoped to welcome offspring. Jackie reportedly laid eggs last year that didn't develop into chicks. 

Bald eagles, which are the only eagles solely native to North America, have experienced a resurgence in recent decades. They were declared an endangered species in 1978. Wildlife conservation efforts helped build the population in the wild. 

The federal government says there are now more than 315,000 bald eagles, including 71,000 nesting pairs. The growing population has allowed officials to remove the bald eagle from the endangered species list.