Lost Steller’s Sea Eagle Native To Asia Spotted in Maine

by Michael Freeman
(Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Every now and then you hear about an animal that wandered outside of its normal habitat, but it’s never usually too far. This certainly isn’t the case with a Steller’s Sea Eagle, a species native to Asia, that was recently spotted in Maine.

Talk about being out of your element. The rare sea eagle somehow ventured thousands of miles from its home. Someone reportedly saw the bird in Maine during a snowstorm and told local birdwatchers. John, a photographer, learned about the sighting and heard it was seen around Boothbay Harbor. Setting out in the snow last Friday, he found it and posted amazing photos on Instagram.

“Steller’s Sea Eagle in my town. Watch my live video to see how this happened,” John captioned the post. Going on, he provides information he gleaned online. “‘Steller’s sea eagles are native to China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and eastern Russia, so this bird is at least 5,000 miles from home. But what’s even wilder is that the same exact bird has been traveling across North America since at least August 2020.” – @deepa_shivaram (NPR).'”

Last month, reports state the bird was seen along the Taunton River. Andrew Farnsworth, a Cornell Lab of Ornithology research associate, told CBS News the Steller’s Sea Eagle is learning from bald eagles in the area and eating like them. “Out of range birds like this are usually following their own programming so to speak,” he said. “It’s clearly associating with bald eagles, which are closely related, probably because of their similarities in behavior and ecology and diet among other things.”

Time will tell where the eagle ends up next.

Is This the Same Steller’s Sea Eagle Spotted in Canada Months Ago?

Finding an eagle thousands of miles away from its home and across an ocean, no less, is certainly odd. However, with previous sightings of a Steller’s Sea Eagle happening last year, is it the same bird as the one recently spotted?

The very first sighting occurred way back in August 2020 along Alaska’s Denali highway. Sometime later, Phil Taylor, an Acadia University biologist, stated he saw it in Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast. “I knew exactly what it was, immediately,” Taylor told the New York Times. “I couldn’t believe it. Something like this is just one in a million.”

Seeing the bird firsthand motivated Taylor to alert local birdwatchers to the find and sure enough, another wildlife photographer saw the eagle too. “Mind blown, gobsmacked … there’s all kinds of words,” Dain relayed to CBC News after seeing it. “It’s a dream bird for a birder or to see, especially here in Nova Scotia.”

Though it’s possible it’s another Steller’s Sea Eagle, the timeline of sightings suggests it’s merely moved from the west coast to the east. The million-dollar question now is will it ever make it home?