Ginormous Asian Eagle Spotted In Massachusetts, Sending Birders into Frenzy

A once-in-a-lifetime chance has presented itself along the banks of the Taunton River in Massachusetts, where bird watchers have sighted a very uncommon Steller’s sea eagle. These huge raptors, which are native to Russia’s the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East, have never been observed on an Atlantic coast before. Steller’s sea eagles have a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters (eight feet) and are among the world’s biggest birds. 

They are easily identified by their stunning orange beaks and snow-white tails. These remarkable creatures, which number in the thousands, reproduce along the coasts and islands of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea, occasionally traveling to Japan or Korea in the winter.

Nick Lund, who represents Maine Audubon, revealed the presence of this spectacular flying monster on the east coast of the United States earlier this week on his blog The Birds. He stated, “The size sticks out — a pair of adolescent Bald Eagles perch just above it, but the Steller’s dwarf them.”

The identical bird was first spotted in Alaska in August 2020, with a white patch on its left-wing, according to local birders. Even more unexpectedly, word went out in the spring of this year that a Steller’s sea eagle had sighted in Texas. 

Although it appears to be the same person, the unusual wing pattern could not confirm because it was only seen sitting rather than flying. The identical bird, though, was spotted in Quebec and New Brunswick in July before disappearing until last month, when it reappeared in Nova Scotia. 

The eagle’s tour of Canada was “like an elephant going up out of Africa into Scandinavia [or] getting a call that the Rolling Stones are performing in a field behind a warehouse in the next town over,” Lund told the New York Times.

However, by arriving in Massachusetts, the bird has now entered a new area for its species, and it appears that the bird will spend Christmas about 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) away from home. Even though this occurrence is unusual and unexpected, birds straying from their range and becoming vagrants are common. Vagrancy usually arises when a bird forced off track or disoriented because of unexpected weather or an internal navigation malfunction.

According to NPR, Alex Ellis is a lecturer in conservation biology at Manchester Metropolitan University. The eagle was injured in Massachusetts “because of a failure to cut the scattering tendency or a failure of its navigational equipment. The fact that the bird has not been home in well over a year, according to Lees, indicates it will most likely never return.