Steller’s sea eagle. It’s ripped, regal and rare. To see the heaviest eagle in the world, with its eight-foot wingspan, an American would normally have to travel to Korea, Japan or eastern Russia. Never had one of the sea eagles been spotted in the lower 48 states – until now.
Five days before Christmas, one of the majestic birds flew to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and it’s attracting birdwatchers from all over the East Coast to see it.
Members of the Massachusetts Audubon Society first spotted the raptor known for its enormous golden beak.
NPR reports that the unique arrangement of tail feathers suggests this is the same bird that was spotted in summer in Canada and Alaska. Straying outside of its native range, it is known as the “vagabond”.
As of January 16, the wayward bird was still in Maine, having first been documented as a vagrant in Alaska’s Denali National Park, 4,700 miles away, in August.
The chance to see this eagle would normally involve a 6-12 hour plane ride and a passport, so the bird’s appearance in the United States draws birdwatchers from their nests in places like New Jersey to a spontaneous road trip known as “chasing”. .”
When a rare species, especially a rare vagrant, is spotted, intrepid birders follow up on reported sightings in the area using apps like eBird or various Facebook groups.
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John Putrillo recently photographed this famous bird of prey. Her Instagram, Manbythesea, is now filled with beautiful pictures showcasing her dark brown feathers and a beak designed to tear fish like salmon into bite-size pieces.
The eagle gave Putrillo a new passion: “I want to know more about all species of birds now,” he says. “I want to find all the birds I can, from the smallest to the largest.”
(LOOK Putrillo’s Instagram video below for a taste of the birding action.)
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