A rare Steller’s sea eagle is now making itself at home in Maine, officials said.
The bird was spotted in December near the Taunton River in Massachusetts, wildlife authorities said.
It was last spotted south of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, at around 10:30 a.m. Monday and was reported flying west over the Indiantown Preserve across the Sheepscot River, according to a post on Maine Audubon’s website.
The rare bird has a wingspan of up to 8 feet and can weigh anywhere from 13 to 20 pounds. The eagle isn’t native to New England — it’s native to eastern Russia, the Korean peninsula, and northern Japan, according to Audubon. And there are only 3,600 to 4,700 of the birds, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
This particular eagle was spotted in Alaska on the Denali Highway in August 2020, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Since then, it’s been seen in several spots across North America, including in New Brunswick, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, Canada, and Massachusetts, according to Field & Stream Magazine.
Doug Hitchcox, a staff naturalist at Maine Audubon, said there are certain similarities between the eagle’s typical habitat and the coast of Maine. Hitchcox tracks the bird’s whereabouts on the organization’s website.
“The estuaries and harbors along Maine’s coast are similar enough to the habitat this bird would (or should) be using in coastal Japan that the eagle is about as ‘at home’ as it could be, despite being on the wrong continent,” Hitchcox said in an e-mailed statement.
He explained that the area where the eagle has been staying has “plenty” of fish and waterfowl to hunt, meaning “as long as it is finding the resources it needs, it’ll probably stick around.”
Hitchcox said the bird has attracted many curious visitors. He estimated that over 1,500 people came to see the bird in its first weekend in Maine.
“This is a dream come true for birders,” Hitchcox said.