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Viral Bald Eagle Couple’s 3 Chicks 'Unlikely' to Hatch — but They’re Still 'Taking Dedicated Care' of the Eggs

"Miracles do happen," says Sandy Steers, the executive director of the organization that operates the eagles' live cam

<p>Friends of Big Bear Valley/ Facebook</p> Eagles Jackie, Shadow and their three eggs

Friends of Big Bear Valley/ Facebook

Eagles Jackie, Shadow and their three eggs

Two bald eagles in California have drawn a huge audience while waiting for their eggs to hatch. Now, it seems unlikely they ever will.

Thousands have tuned in to a YouTube live cam operated by conservation organization Friends of Big Bear Valley to monitor Jackie, Shadow and their three eggs — and watch the avian couple bicker. Since Feb. 29, observers have been on “pip watch,” waiting for the trio of eggs to begin hatching.

So far, there have been no cracks in the shells.

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On Monday, Sandy Steers, the executive director of Friends of Big Bear Valley, wrote in a Facebook post that the eggs hatching is “unlikely” at this point in the eagles' journey.

“As of today, there has been no confirmed pips in any of the eggs,” she wrote. “This is later than Jackie’s eggs have hatched in the past, so it is probably unlikely for them to hatch at this point… but as someone pointed out to me, miracles do happen.”

Related: Rescue Bald Eagle Who Tried to Hatch a Rock in an Attempt to Become a Dad Gets a Foster Chick

While disappointing, the news is “not a matter of ‘giving up,’ " Steers said. Rather, “It is simply a matter of taking what is in front of us and moving forward… just the way Jackie and Shadow do.”

<p>Friends of Big Bear Valley/ Facebook</p> Bald Eagles Jackie and Shadow

Friends of Big Bear Valley/ Facebook

Bald Eagles Jackie and Shadow

The executive director added that “we can feel sad” about the update to the couple’s eggs, but noted that “Jackie and Shadow and their journey are still here.”

“They continue doing what they do best… being eagles and taking care of what they have in front of them in each moment,” she wrote. “At this point, they are both caring for the eggs, switching places, arguing over who’s [sic] turn it is and being gentle and tender both with the eggs and with each other.”

Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Steers shared that pip watch began 35 days after Jackie laid her first egg, and she expected pipping to begin three or four days later. It’s been nearly two weeks, leading her to conclude that the eggs are not viable.

Though she tried to maintain a practical, realistic point of view about the couple and their eggs, it doesn’t make the news “any easier,” she told the outlet on Tuesday.

“I feel very connected to Jackie and Shadow, so it’s very sad for me,” she said, adding that it “makes my heart hurt.”

In her Monday Facebook post, Steers said there is “no way of knowing” why the eggs have not hatched, but provided myriad theories.

“It could be environmental, such as temperatures, humidity percentages, oxygen levels at high altitude, etc. It could be biological with something just being off at the time the eggs were created,” she wrote, adding that it is “very unlikely that either Jackie or Shadow are infertile since they have already had 2 sets of chicks together—in 2019 and 2022.”

<p>Friends of Big Bear Valley/ Facebook</p> Bald Eagles Jackie and Shadow in their nest

Friends of Big Bear Valley/ Facebook

Bald Eagles Jackie and Shadow in their nest

As of Wednesday morning, there is still no pipping in any of the three eggs. But as Steers points out, it’s still business as usual in the nest.

“Jackie and Shadow continue taking dedicated care of their eggs…and lovingly building their beautiful relationship in the process,” she said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

“I’m sorry that I don’t have any different news about a pip in the eggs for those holding out every chance of hope for a hatching (including me!),” she added. “Thank you for joining me in enjoying Jackie and Shadow’s continuing saga of shenanigans in the meantime.”

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Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, the executive director pointed out that Jackie and Shadow are 10 and 12, respectively, and have many fertile years in their future.

“Eagles have been known to live in the wild for 39 years ... so, they’re young,” she told the outlet. “Eagles don’t stop laying eggs anytime before they die. They stay fertile and producing up until the end.”

This isn’t Jackie and Shadow’s first time facing this difficult situation, either. The couple, who she described as “extremely resilient and strong,” have previously had eggs that didn’t hatch, and some that were stolen by ravens.

“I like to think they’re teaching people resilience,” she added of the pair, “and to take things as they come.”

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