Big Bear's Beloved Baby Eagle Is About to Fly

Spirit has charmed viewers around the world since early March; now her time to soar is near.

Friends of Big Bear Valley

Baby birds?

They have a rather predictable way of exiting an egg, and then, after growing bigger and stronger and sprouting all of the necessary feathers, they finally spread their wings, depart the nest for the first time, and fly.

This is the way of the world, and yet? All sorts of emotions arise when a formerly tiny hatchling finally sets out to explore on its own.

That is surely what devoted followers of the Big Bear bald eagles are feeling as May 2022 enters its final week, for Spirit, the eaglet born to Jackie & Shadow in early March, has officially entered her Fledge Watch.

When the bird's first flight may take place is anyone's guess, though the people at Friends of Big Bear Valley, the group behind the eagles' nest cam, think we've entered into an "any day" now situation as of May 24.

The choice to spread her wings and finally leave the nest is up to Spirit, of course, and she is certainly practicing hard for that initial jump.

The no-longer-a-baby bird, who was only a fluffy hatchling 11 or so weeks ago, has been visiting the furthest point of a nearby branch, referred to as the "Front Porch" by nest watchers, with increasing frequency.

Once on the branch, Spirit has been spreading her impressive wings, over and over, with a little hop now and then, tiny test runs for how it might feel when she makes the leap.

Jackie and Spirit are expected to perch nearby, watching the young female's first flight from a neighboring tree or trees.

A second camera, one that has a wider view of the area, is expected to catch Spirit's first flight, as will the thousands of viewers who happen to be looking in at the time it happens.

A bald eagle's fledging usually happens between 10 and 14 weeks, per the Friends of Big Bear Valley, so you could say that Spirit is very much "in the zone."

Spirit has been enjoying the fish and fowl that her parents have brought back to the nest, but soon it will be time for her to find food on her own, and soar above Big Bear Lake, then pursue a "nomadic" life, though there is a chance she could return to the area to one day raise her own young.

As for what happens in the immediate future?

"Once Spirit does take flight, she will follow Jackie and Shadow around, watch and learn from their behaviors," shares the Friends of Big Bear Valley.

"Jackie & Shadow will continue to provide her with food, sometimes in the nest and sometimes in other perch trees. Spirit may come back to the nest to sleep, eat, or perch, or there may be days that we do not see her at all."

"Spirit will stay in the area for a month or two and then she will head out on her life's adventure exploring, learning, and perfecting her eagle skills. She may travel hundreds or even thousands of miles away on her adventures."

Plenty has happened since the first thrilling pip was seen in Spirit's egg at the start of March; she gained a noble and spirited name, thanks to a fundraising contest (and the help of local elementary students). And on Mother's Day? The Friends of Big Bear Valley revealed that Spirit was likely a female, due to her size, vocalizations, and other factors.

Now the next chapter in her story is due: It's time to fly.

Watch the live feed from the nest, and perhaps you'll see the very moment that this exciting, wing-big, wind-riding moment happens for a young eagle on the literal precipice of life.

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