BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. (AP) — Late-season rain and snow were apparently too much for a bald eagle chick in a California forest nest watched by a popular internet camera .
The death of the chick named Cookie was announced Monday by the environmental advocacy group Friends of Big Bear Valley and the San Bernardino National Forest.
“We are very sad to say that it looks like Cookie died just a little bit ago,” the environmental group said. “He was up earlier but looked weak; he also seemed less energetic yesterday. This last storm was a tough one with rain first and then snow and cold temperatures.”
Cookie and a sibling named Simba hatched last month in the nest near Big Bear Lake east of Los Angeles. They were named through a contest for schoolchildren.
Both were determined to be in good condition last week when a trained climber removed them from the nest, determined they were males, banded them and then returned them to their home high in a tree.
The U.S. Forest Service tweeted that weekend rain followed by snow brought overnight temperatures down to 26 degrees (-3 Celsius) and that hypothermia was likely the cause of death.
At the current stage, eagle chicks are too big to be fully covered by their mother and only have juvenile feathers, which makes it difficult to retain heat when they become wet, the Forest Service said.
“Rain followed by snow is never a good combination, as it begins to ice the body,” the service said.
A chick that dies in a nest is typically moved off to the side or covered in new nesting material.
“Nature can be very tough,” Friends of Big Bear Valley said on its website. “The survival rate for bald eagles is 50% in the first year. We will all be rooting for Simba to stay strong and healthy.”
Forecasters said this week’s weather will be warmer, with temperatures closer to normal for the end of May, but there will be a chance of thunderstorms over the San Bernardino Mountains each afternoon. Weather will revert to cooler next weekend.