Jackie and Shadow’s Remarkable Journey

Jackie and Shadows Remarkable Journey

Savannah Lopez

The animal icons of Big Bear Valley, CA, Jackie and Shadow’s lives are caught on a live camera that is perched atop their nest, following the pair’s activities daily. Jackie, Big Bear’s darling bald eagle, is approximately 8-10 years old, and her life-mate Shadow is likely 6-8 years old. The pair have been followed during their parenthood since 2017, when Jackie first arrived in Big Bear.

Before Jackie and Shadow came along, the nest belonged to another pair of bald eagles named Lucy and Ricky. Lucy and Ricky were the first eagles ever recorded to successfully hatch an eaglet in Big Bear. This Big-Bear-native baby was named Jack, and was believed to be a male until she grew larger than her father, and it was then when she was determined a female. Jack’s name was later changed to Jackie to better fit her profile.

Lucy and Ricky, Big Bear’s original bald eagle couple

When Jackie was fledged (flew for the first time), it was unknown if she left the area or if she stayed in Big Bear to create her own nest one day. Lucy and Ricky had since moved to another, neighboring tree after their original nest blew down. In 2015, Lucy and Ricky hatched two more eaglets, named Midnight and Sky, both of whom likely left the area. In 2016, Lucy and Ricky left the area as well, leaving a brand-new nest behind.  

A year later in 2017, a sub-adult female that matched the age profile of Lucy and Ricky’s eldest eaglet Jackie arrived at the couple’s old/new nest. She was given the name Jackie because most thought it was in fact that first little Big Bear native eaglet herself. However, because none of Lucy and Ricky’s chicks were ever tagged, it is impossible to tell if Jackie is truly Lucy and Ricky’s daughter. It’s also pretty unlikely that it is in fact the OG Jackie, as most eagles leave the area they were born in when they fledge, but it’s still quite a possibility. Either way, Jackie settled quickly into this new home, and brought her mate named Mr. B with her. Mr. B and Jackie mated, but because Jackie had just turned 5, she was still too young to lay eggs. 

Jackie and Mr. B mated again in 2018, this time laying 2 eggs. Both males, these two eggs hatched and were named BBB (Big Bear Baby) and Stormy. BBB passed away from hypothermia after a severe late-winter storm, but little baby Stormy prevails. Stormy is thrown into worldwide stardom as a symbol of perseverance and survival, and he leaves Big Bear Valley later that year, marking Jackie’s first successful hatchling. 

In the Fall of 2018, a new sub-adult male showed up unannounced in the area near Jackie’s nest. A protective Mr. B picks a fight with this new kid on the block, named Shadow. Mr. B and Shadow have a showdown, fight over Jackie, ending up in Mr. B accepting his loss and leaving. Proving his worth to Jackie, Shadow is now the female’s new mate, and they soon start a hatch together. This situation baffled local biologists, as bald eagles are generally loyal to their first mates and follow them wherever they go off to.

Jackie’s second clutch ever and first clutch with Shadow was laid in 2019. Again, both hatched, but one died before leaving the nest, and the other was fledged successfully and left Big Bear in July, 2019. The eaglet that passed was named Cookie and the eaglet that survived was named Simba. Like Jackie’s first clutch, Simba and Cookie were both males. Simba was Jackie’s second hatchling to survive hatchling-hood. 


Jackie and Shadow’s first clutch together consisted of eaglets Cookie and Simba

Jackie’s third clutch consisted of two eggs (laid in 2020), and the father of these premature eaglets was believed to again be Shadow. Sadly, the eggs never hatched for unknown reasons. In early 2021, Jackie and Shadow laid three more eggs together, but this clutch was destroyed and eaten by ravens (replays of this act can be found on Youtube, but be aware, it’s pretty sad). Jackie rebounded this loss with another pair of eggs that same February, fathered again by Shadow. One of these eggs hatched in March, but died soon after. The second egg of this clutch did not hatch even after double its normal incubation time (normal time is 35 days, this egg was incubated for 68 days), and it was deemed a non-viable egg by local biologists. Knowing it would never hatch, Jackie and Shadow began leaving the egg alone for long periods of time, a usual no-no for eggs still able to hatch. 

In 2022, Jackie laid two more eggs, once again fathered by her life-mate, Shadow. In March, one of these eggs hatched successfully, Jackie’s third healthy hatchling. The young eagle, named Spirit, is believed to be Jackie and Shadow’s first baby girl. Spirit took to the skies for the first time in May 2022. It is unknown if Spirit has left the area.

Jackie (off-screen) and Shadow welcomed their first eaglet in two years in 2022


2023 is off to a good start for Jackie and Shadow, as Jackie laid her first egg of the year on January 11th and her second on January 14th. Jackie and Shadow have been rigorously caring for these eggs; rearranging sticks and keeping them warm throughout the snowy Big Bear winter. These little eggies are due to hatch on the day after Valentine’s Day! Hopefully Jackie and Shadow’s newest clutch are as happy, healthy, and successful as their famed older sister, Spirit and older brothers Stormy and Simba. 


Jackie admires her first two eggs of the season


Ever wondered which eagle is Jackie and which one is Shadow? Jackie is quite larger than her mate Shadow, not an unusual trait amongst bald eagles. Jackie’s beak is larger than Shadow’s, and it’s also thicker. In addition, Jackie also has larger, more broad shoulders (not easy to see most of the time, however). There are also some subtle differences in facial features between the two. For example, Jackie looks perpetually angry and stern, while Shadow looks relaxed and goofy. This has nothing to do with their personalities, as Friends of Big Bear Valley points out, “…but because she has a more pronounced Supraorbital Ridge (the bony protuberance above the eye socket that shades and protects the eye). Shadow’s Supraorbital Ridge is not that intense – he often looks “goofy” or “surprised” in comparison, which of course just makes him all the more adorable.”


Jackie and Shadow enjoy a snow day by Big Bear Lake!

The camera that provides a 24/7 live feed of the nest is provided by the Friends of Big Bear Valley (also known as FOBBV), a nonprofit nature organization based out of Big Bear. The live feed is available on Youtube and includes the sights and sounds of the area. A second live wide feed of the entire tree the nest is in is also available (it’s called Big Bear Bald Eagle Live Nest Cam 2).

See a close-up of the nest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4-L2nfGcuE

The second camera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk_rwltHYpc.