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Thousands watch as bald eagle parents squabble over whose turn it is to keep eggs warm

Webcam audience eagerly awaits bald eagle hatching
Webcam audience eagerly awaits bald eagle hatching 02:17

The time to see some newly hatched baby eagles has almost arrived, and parents Jackie and Shadow are both passionately committed to keeping their eggs warm. 

Bald eagle Jackie laid the first of three eggs on Jan. 25, with two more within the next few days, according to Friends of Big Bear Valley, a conservation organization that operates a live cam of the nest. Eggs usually hatch after about 35 days, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and fans are keeping an eagle eye on the nest, which is located in Big Bear Valley in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. 

Friends of Big Bear Valley on Feb. 29 launched Pip Watch, which allows fans to monitor for the first tiny holes or cracks in eggshells. Fans can peep all day long, thanks to a solar-powered, 24-hour live webcam trained on the nest.

Jackie, who's 12, is larger and can fit over the top of the eggs more easily, Friends of Big Bear Valley said in a Facebook post. However, Shadow, 10, often wants a turn. 

Friends of Big Bear Valley
Jackie and Shadow are seen waiting for the birth of their baby eagles. Friends of Big Bear Valley

"After her full nights on the eggs, Jackie sometimes calls for Shadow in the early dawn. Shadow instantly comes in to take over," Friends of Big Bear Valley said in a Sunday post. "But the past few days he has been more stubborn than ever about refusing to leave when Jackie returns."

On Thursday, Jackie let Shadow take over for an hour. She waited for him to move aside when she returned, then bit his beak when he wouldn't let her resume her duties. Shadow eventually gave in. 

In addition to beak biting, Friends of Big Bear Valley said there has been "gentle beak poking" and tail feather nibbling when trying to trade over the last month. At one point, Jackie "had to push her weight around by laying on him to get him to move."

Shadow will often bring fish for Jackie to eat as she incubates their eggs. Sometimes, it's a way for him to lure her off the eggs so that he can get a turn.

"Jackie has been pretty patient and understanding of his love of incubating, so she usually gives him a little extra time on the eggs," Friends of Big Bear Valley said in a Feb. 13 post. "When she thinks 'okay that's enough', she gives a gentle love nibble or nudge, or a sweet beak kiss to soften him up a bit before he gets up and ready to leave. Then, of course, she moves in quickly on the eggs!"

Jackie and Shadow have several rules they follow, according to Friends of Big Bear Valley. The most important rules are that Jackie presides over the nest, Jackie always wins and Jackie is always on nest duty during inclement weather. 

Jackie, covered in snow, even sat on her nest for just under 62 straight hours early in February during a storm.  

"When there is bad weather, Jackie will not leave her eggs. She will not let Shadow have a turn on the nest. She will not eat because she has to get off the eggs to do that," Friends of Big Bear Valley said ."She simply covers her eggs, pushing them into the brood patch on her chest, so she can keep them as warm, dry and protected as possible."

Bald eagles mate for life, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. If an eagle in the pair dies, the survivor will accept a new mate. They can live up to about 30 years in the wild. 

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