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Rare Steller’s sea eagle spotted a long way from home

Andrew Vitz, an ornithologist, said the bird most likely arrived in North America after it got caught in a weather-related storm.

By: AP | Massachusetts |
December 22, 2021 2:02:02 pm
An undated photo provided by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, shows a Steller’s sea eagle in flight. (Christoph Moning, Macaulay Library, Cornell Lab of Ornithology via The New York Times)An undated photo provided by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, shows a Steller’s sea eagle in flight. Steller’s sea eagles are rare arctic birds with bright orange beaks and a 6- to 8-foot wingspan, which means they can outsize bald eagles. (Christoph Moning, Macaulay Library, Cornell Lab of Ornithology via The New York Times)

A long way from its home in Asia, a rare Steller’s sea eagle was spotted by 200 bird watchers around Taunton River, Massachusetts on Monday.

The eagle is reportedly the same one that went off course a year ago and has been spotted in Alaska and Canada by bird watchers across North America, The Boston Globe reported on Tuesday.

Flocks of bird watchers in the Northeast said they traveled hours to the river to catch a glimpse of the eagle in what they said was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the birding community.

Steller’s sea eagles, native to Russia, China, Korea and Japan, have wingspans of up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) and weigh between 6 to 9 kilograms. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the eagles as vulnerable species, estimating a total population of about 4,000.

“We’ve never had one here in this area of the world: the Northeast coast of North America or Massachusetts,” said Andrew Vitz, the state’s ornithologist. “This is like the bird of the decade for people around here.”

Vitz said the bird most likely arrived in North America after it got caught in a weather-related storm. The state has no plans to capture or tag the bird, he said.

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