A Steller’s sea eagle escaped its enclosure at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh last Saturday, and despite the valiant efforts of aviary staff and numerous sightings in the local neighborhood posted on social media, Kodiak – Kody at his friends – is always on the loose and we’re all a little worried about him, to be perfectly honest.
It’s a bird that would be hard to miss: it’s large (although in Pittsburgh it probably wouldn’t be called “giant” because “Giant Eagle” is a grocery chain here), with a yellow beak. , a white tail and white feathers at the top of its wings. It is larger than a bald eagle and has a wingspan of around six feet. Kody has been spotted in and around the Pittsburgh neighborhood where the Aviary is located, which seems like a good thing. But he was hard to catch because you can’t just throw a net over him and call him a day, as licensed falconer Richard Lawson said at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; a specialized trap (and obviously human) will be necessary.
Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) typically weighs between 13 and 20 pounds and is about four feet tall. He has no natural predators, according to the Aviary, but Kody has lived in captivity for 15 of his 16 years, so he may be a bit rusty on the whole hunt / prey. Steller’s sea eagles eat fish, and more fish, “scavenging mammals” (ew) and even other birds “when fish are scarce.” And in case you’re wondering, they’re named after German naturalist Georg W. Steller, who encountered the birds on a visit to Alaska in 1741.
The Aviary has posted updates to social media and is set to get Kody back, but he has eluded them so far. I was half hoping Kody would make some sort of majestic appearance at the Steelers game last Sunday since Heinz Field isn’t far from the aviary, and the team were at home against the Bengals (we’re not going to talk about that game today, however). Alas, he didn’t.
On Thursday, the aviary’s animal care experts camped out to watch its perch in a large tree in the city’s North Park neighborhood, and they confirmed it was in good condition. They tried to entice him with food, but he didn’t come down. But look at this beautiful, beautiful boi:
A lot of people, including me, before moving to Pittsburgh a thousand years ago, didn’t know what hidden gem the National Aviary is, or that it is in Pittsburgh. Their penguins are usually the big celebrities (hello, this is Pittsburgh), but they also have very cute owls, eagles, flamingos, hawks and canaries, as well as very large ones, among other birds. You can sign up for educational ‘animal encounters’ with many birds – I remember visiting when my son was little; we sat in a big auditorium where birds of prey were flying, and we had like a popsicle stick with food on it (i would rather not think about what the food really was) and you were holding it up at one o’clock birds rushed to eat it. Extremely awesome.
If you are in Pittsburgh and see Kody, call the National Aviary at 412-323-7235. Do not try to approach him, you might frighten him. And when the Aviary team shows up, stay away. They want to get him home safe and sound.