High in the sky in Big Bear Valley, California, an eagle named Jackie flew back home to her nest, following closely behind her mate, Shadow. The eagle couple, who have parented chicks in the past, would soon begin prepping the nest, perhaps anticipating another set of eggs.
On this particular afternoon, Shadow had just caught himself some lunch and was poised to start eating when Jackie demanded that the snack should be hers. The pair bickered for a bit, but in the end, the meal went to Jackie. Surely, she thought, “the one who lays the eggs around here should get the best treats.”
“Jackie always gets her way,” Sandy Steers, Friends of Big Bear Valley executive director, told The Dodo.
Steers has gotten to know this eagle pair quite well — watching them daily through the lens of Friends of Big Bear Valley’s eagle camera. For years, this camera has allowed nature lovers a unique glimpse into the lives of the beautiful birds living high above their heads. On Facebook, Steers frequently updates eagle fans about their favorite pair — Jackie and Shadow — a partnership whose daily relationship triumphs and squabbles often feel far too familiar.
“Shadow and Jackie are the perfect match,” Steers said. “He’s very tender toward Jackie and lets her be the boss.”
Originally, Jackie mated with another eagle. But when Shadow arrived, Steers could tell he was stealing Jackie’s heart. Eventually, Jackie’s original mate conceded to Shadow and flew away. With the ex out of the nest, Shadow and Jackie began their life together. This incident was quite surprising — eagles usually mate for life, but Jackie and Shadow’s unique connection was strong enough to inspire Jackie to re-partner.
“This sounds weird, but you can tell that Jackie has a lot more respect for Shadow than she did for her previous mate,” Steers said.
Since partnering, Jackie and Shadow’s funny personalities have been on full display. Fans know that Shadow is reliable and accommodating, while Jackie is a bossy lady with a big heart.
Steers is grateful for the eagle camera and how it’s allowed people to see wildlife in a way they usually wouldn’t. As viewers watch Jackie and Shadow build their nest and prepare for parenting, they slowly develop deeper feelings of empathy toward the natural world.
“[Jackie and Shadow] demonstrate how much personality and emotion animals have that very often people dismiss as instinct,” Steers said. “You can’t watch them for very long and not think there’s more going on than just chemicals in their body.”
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