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In California, Bald Eagles’ On-Camera Romance (and Male Chivalry) Is Must-See TV — Watch Video

#RelationshipGoals? These are #Relationship[EA]goals.

Who would have thought a bald eagle would give husbands everywhere a run for their money? Shadow, the eagle in question, has taken such good care of his wife, Jackie, in recent years that the pair has become internet famous.

It all began in 2015, when the nonprofit forest service called Friends of Big Bear Valley (FOBBV) noticed that they had a number of eagle nests in the area — the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. So, they set up an eagle nest camera. In 2017, a female (later named Jackie) began hanging around the abandoned nest in front of the camera, and in 2018, Shadow came into the picture. The rest is history; Shadow became Jackie’s devoted mate, and each year, the pair has tried to rear their young. While many eggs have not hatched and some eaglets have not survived the harsh winters, the pair has stuck together through it all. Check out three sweet examples of Shadow being a devoted husband to Jackie below.

1) Shadow lets Jackie take the prime nest spot, even on the stormiest nights.

As anyone who watches the FOBBV Nest Cam knows, Jackie nearly always gets her way. She is the one to sit on the nest overnight to incubate the eggs, and while this is primarily due to instinct, it’s also because the nest is comfortable and warm. In fact, during one particularly stormy night in January of this year, Jackie rested on her eggs as snow collected over her entire body. By the morning, she was happily buried under inches of thick snow.

This might seem cold and uncomfortable to us, but remember: Bald eagles have over 7,000 feathers, and the outer layer is waterproof. Plus, snow is an insulating material that actually stabilizes temperature.

2) Shadow brings Jackie sticks and fish so she will take breaks from egg sitting.

While both male and female bald eagles take turns incubating eggs, the female does most of the work. Shadow has a hard time getting Jackie out of the nest to take a break (who would want to leave their babies?), so he uses food and sticks as a bribe. In one clip from late January, Shadow lands on the nest with a big fish, and Jackie begins wailing for it immediately. Shadow waits patiently for Jackie to take the fish elsewhere, but instead she hovers over the eggs as she eats. (Better luck next time, Shadow.)

Sometimes, bringing a stick is more successful — especially if you hook the stick around your mate’s neck! In February, Shadow brought a large and impressive stick that branched out into a V. Jackie didn’t seem very interested, so Shadow swiveled and placed the stick on her back, hooking the V around her neck. He then lifted the stick and used it to pull her off the nest. Jackie protested, but gripped the stick in her beak and stood up. Shadow took his chance and quickly sat on the eggs. (Talk about a smooth move.)

3) After they lost their eggs this year, Shadow worked hard to re-bond with Jackie.

Unfortunately, Jackie and Shadow’s eggs did not hatch this year. Though Jackie seemed to sense that they wouldn’t hatch in February and began leaving the nest for longer bouts of time, Shadow persisted a few weeks longer. Eventually, he accepted the unfortunate loss and stopped protecting the eggs, which were soon eaten by crows in early March.

When Shadow saw that the eggs were gone, he seemed sad — as the FOBBV staff noted. He didn’t try to sit on the nest, and instead chose a solitary spot in a nearby pine. Jackie soon joined him and sat next to him quietly. “Both [eagles] have shown this same behavior in the past when something unexpected happened with the eggs,” the FOBBV staff wrote on Facebook. “Jackie seems [to] be better at accepting the sad situations more quickly and being able to move on. She appears to be aware that Shadow cannot, and [assists] him with his process of coming to acceptance.”

After a few days, Shadow became focused on re-bonding with Jackie. He brought her fish, and they both ate in the nest. Shadow also began sprucing up the nest with new sticks, and eventually, the pair began mating again.

It isn’t clear whether Jackie will lay a new pair of eggs this year, but one thing is for certain: She has a wonderful mate.

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