In the early dawn, Spirit the young bald eagle was antsy in her nest 145 feet up in a Jeffrey pine overlooking Big Bear Lake. Web viewers held their breath.
At 5:49 a.m. Tuesday, May 31, just as the sun broke over the ridge, the raptor hopped up on a jutting branch, tested her wings, and took off, leaving just the sound of the wind and forest birdsong in the nest that had been her only home since hatching in March.
Until that point her whole life has been captured on a live webcam, from when her egg was laid and her first feeding in the snow, to her first attempts at flapping her wings, and it has been watched by tens of thousands of people across the planet.
Sandy Steers, executive director of Friends of Big Bear Valley, which runs the nest cam, said earlier this month that there’s no telling where Spirit will go when she fledges (leaves the nest) and identifying her will not be easy as no one has put an identification band on her leg.
“Spirit took her first flight this morning at 5:49:52,” the group posted on their Facebook page Tuesday morning, along with video of the leap. “She started out like every other morning, stretching and flapping her wings and this time … she just let go and flew in perfect form!”
The group added she will likely come back to the nest soon, perhaps later in the day, or in a couple of days.
About an hour after being posted, the message had more than 8,000 likes on Facebook.
The curious young bird had been getting bolder over the last few weeks, exploring the outer branches by the 5 ½-foot wide nest, checking out the webcam, and testing her wings.
Her parents, Jackie and Shadow, successfully raised a chick named Simba in the nest in 2019, and in 2018 Jackie and a different partner had successfully raised a chick in the nest.
A nest cam was first installed in the area in 2015 to capture home life of a different pair of eagles, Ricky and Lucy, who left the area the following year.
For more information go to friendsofbigbearvalley.org or facebook.com/Friends-of-Big-Bear-Valley-and-Big-Bear-Eagle-Nest-Cam-705508029491602
The live nest cam can be viewed at youtube.com/watch?v=B4-L2nfGcuE.