Watch: Eagle mom, dad keep their eggs warm during California snowstorm

Eagle parents Jackie and Shadow protected their two eggs from a winter storm that struck California's Big Bear Lake last week. Bald eagles have certain adaptations that allow them to keep their eggs warm and dry.

BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. – An Eagle Nest Cam shows two bald eagle parents keeping their eggs warm during a winter storm.

The storm was one of several atmospheric river events, which dropped a total of 32 trillion gallons of water on the Golden State over three weeks. 

Last weekend, some of that water fell as snow around Big Bear Lake, where eagle mom Jackie and eagle dad Shadow were taking turns to keep their two eggs warm in their snow-covered nest.

Shielding their eggs from the storm

Footage from the Eagle Nest Cam opens with Shadow sitting on the eggs, as Jackie flies up and lands next to him. Jackie left the nest earlier after sitting on the eggs during the winter storm for 27 hours.

"It is a long time," said Sandy Steers, executive director of the Friends of Big Bear Valley. 

FOBBV protects the eagles of Big Bear Lake, California, and has been operating the live Eagle Nest Cam at the lake since October 2015.


"The only time [Jackie] does that is when it's storming and because she doesn't want to leave the eggs uncovered, even for a few minutes with the storm," Steers said. "And so, she will just stay there."

Steers also noted that Jackie doesn’t usually trust a male partner to stay with the eggs, particularly at night and during storms. So, she stays on the eggs during storms because she wants to know that she's taking care of them herself.


During the weekend storm, however, Jackie let Shadow sit on the eggs, showing how much she trusts him.

Wearing a winter coat

According to a FOBBV Facebook post about Shadow taking his turn to sit on the eggs, Shadow first rolled the eggs, sat right down and tucked in low. He then rocked to make sure the eggs were snuggly fit into his brood pouch.

A brood pouch, Steers said, is an area on a bald eagle’s chest that automatically loses feathers when the female lays eggs.

With fewer feathers, both of the nesting eagle parents can bring their eggs closer to their skin – and closer to their hearts – allowing them to warm the eggs with their high body temperature.

Steers added that adult bald eagles have over 7,000 waterproof feathers, in addition to many down feathers underneath. This feather combination helps nesting eagles to better protect their eggs from cold, wet weather.


"It's like they're wearing a winter coat all the time," Steers said.

The eggs, which Jackie laid on Jan. 11 and then on Jan. 14, are expected to hatch in mid-February.

According to Steers, the Friends of the Big Bear Valley Hatch Watch will start on Feb. 15.

To stay up to date on Jackie, Shadow and their eggs, check out the FOBBV Facebook page and watch the live FOBBV Eagle Nest Cam.