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Have you ever been lost for 5,000 miles? This Steller’s sea eagle has!

Have you ever gotten lost? Did you follow that GPS through a wrong turn? If so, did you wind up 5,000 miles from home? I think not, but, that happened to a Steller’s sea eagle.

Where did he come from?

The usual eagle of the sea habitat stretches up the rocky Asian coastline from Hokkaido, Japan, to Kamchatka Krai Peninsula, Russia. It is not uncommon to spot a few in North America around Bristol Bay, Alaska, 1,145 miles away from home. This is where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife ornithologists believe it was spotted in July/August 2020. He is easily identified because of his size, up to 20 pounds, and his wingspan, up to eight feet. Coloration adds to identification with bright yellow beak and legs framing a white-shouldered, dark brown to black body. This particular guy has a unique white spot on one wing.

Why is he here?

No one knows exactly how he came to be in North America. Those typical to Alaska come over for the salmon run. However, rarely do we find them east of there. When a bird migrates out of its zone, biologists call this vagrancy. This vagrant may have been blown off course by a storm. Perhaps his internal magnetic sensibilities show abnormalities. Maybe, like us RVers, he decided to flee the mundane and see the world.

Where has he been?

From the initial sighting in Alaska, he may have roamed to Goliad, Texas. That is about a 3,275-mile flight! A photo of the Texas sighting shows a Steller’s sea eagle perched on a tree. Therefore, we cannot be certain that is the same guy. However, how many have ever been spotted in Texas? I think none. Besides, why Texas in March? Maybe he just got tired of winter and searched for a milder temperate holiday…

Where is he now?

Most recently, as of December 2021, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife located him close to the Taunton River around Dighton Rock State Park just outside of Berkley, Massachusetts. So, we have two options. First, if he came up from Texas, he traveled another 1,732 miles. Second, if he flew in from Alaska to Massachusetts, he clocked 3,822 miles. Either way, that totals at least 5,000 miles and at the most more than 6,000 miles. Thankfully, he is in a climate more suitable to his home habitat.

What happens next?

We just have to wait and see! Again from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Facebook page: Bald eagles and Steller’s sea eagles are closely related (in the same genus Haliaeetus) and have been known to form pairs in at least one case in Alaska. So, perhaps he found his mate after all. Eagles are monogamous and form long-lasting bonds. The one case in Alaska claims a mixed pair has been together for more than 10 years during the breeding season. Courtship season begins in February … soooo?

Regardless of conjecture, the roaming of this Steller’s sea eagle remains unprecedented. A couple of wrong turns and suddenly he found himself more than 5,000 miles from home. I have been lost before, but never like that!

What do you think? Should the wildlife biologists capture the sea eagle for a return to its habitat? Should we just leave it be to its own natural urges? Your opinions welcome.

##RVT1034

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Ron Yanuszewski
11 days ago

I hope it mates with a Bald, We could use some new blood up here.

Richard Leighton
11 days ago

The Steller’ s sea eagle has been on the coast of Maine for almost 2 weeks. He spent about 5 or 6 days hanging out with the bald eagles in Georgetown, Maine. Now for the last 3 to 4 days has been on the other side of the bay in Boothbay, Maine.

David
11 days ago

Leave it alone. This animal can sustain itself and is doing what it wants. When we meddle, we often do more harm than good.

Tom
12 days ago

Let it roam. If can safely attach a tracker ok. But otherwise let it see what it wants.

Steven Faulstich
12 days ago

From Russia to Alaska to Maine (via Texas maybe?). Great journey! Thank for this story.

Russ
12 days ago

He’s currently in Boothbay Harbor Maine as of 1/7/22

Steven Faulstich
12 days ago
Reply to  Russ

Wow!

Jim
12 days ago

I think it should be left alone. Just let it roam and monitor where it goes.

John
12 days ago
Reply to  Jim

I agree