Sustainability Environment

Millions of Americans thrilled by bald eagles named Liberty and Guardian

Story at a glance

  • Two pairs of birds in California are being tracked during breeding season on live streams.
  • While one couple, Liberty and Guardian, has successfully hatched three eggs, another has had a run of bad luck.
  • The live feeds of both bird couples have captivated many viewers during the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times in the tale of two couples: one in Redding, Calif., and another, hundreds of miles to the south, in Big Bear Valley. 

Bald eagles Liberty, 22, and Guardian, 7, welcomed three new hatchlings this month to the delight of thousands of viewers tuning into a livestream by Friends of the Redding Eagles. The couple has been together since 2019, when Liberty’s second mate Spirit disappeared, and have one surviving eaglet from last year, named Hope. 


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The three hatchlings are yet to be named, but the Friends of the Redding Eagles are soliciting names online from the more than 8,500 people following their Facebook page. 


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Their joy, however, put in stark contrast the loss of another eaglet born to bald eagles Jackie, 9, and Shadow, 7, in Big Bear Valley. The couple has a similar story: they first mated in 2019, after Shadow pushed out Jackie’s former mate Mr. B. The two have one surviving offspring, Simba, from that year, but another died of hypothermia during a storm and freezing temperatures. 

Their loss was punctuated by a failed nesting attempt last year and then the killing of their first clutch of eggs this season, followed by the death of their first eaglet on March 19, not long after hatching. Still, the couple remains steadfast in their watch over a second egg that has not shown any signs of hatching, and the forest service says it is unlikely it will ever hatch. 

“It is not unusual for bald eagles to have a run of bad luck,” said the forest service, noting that some studies document just a 50 to 60 percent success rate in nesting among bald eagles and then a 50 percent survival rate during the first year of life. “We are all disappointed—watching our eagle family is such a thrill and gives some [of] us a way to destress. We will let you know if anything changes.” 


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