Steller's Sea-Eagle

Haliaeetus pelagicus Order: Accipitriformes Family: Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
Haliaeetus pelagicus Order: Accipitriformes Family: Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

This extraordinary bird is the largest Haliaeetus eagle in the world, dwarfing the Bald Eagle; it’s comparable in size or slightly smaller than the Harpy Eagle and the Philippine Eagle, which are the largest birds called eagles in the world. Steller’s Sea Eagle is found on coastal northeastern Asia, where it feeds mainly on fish and water birds. About 4,000 of these splendid birds live on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Far Eastern Russia.

Unlike the related White-tailed Eagle, Steller’s Sea Eagles don’t wander away from their known range very much. But one individual that appeared in Denali National Park on August 30, 2020 became the first ever to visit the Lower 48. Wikipedia summarized the sightings through early January 2022:

August 30, 2020: Denali National Park, Alaska.
March 10, 2021: Coleto Creek, Southeastern Texas. This was submitted by an anonymous photo and not confirmed.
June 28, 2021: Restigouche River, New Brunswick/Quebec border. For 6 weeks following it was seen in various places in Quebec.
November 3, 2021: Avon River, Nova Scotia.
December 19-20, 2021: Taunton River, Massachusetts. First confirmed sighting for the species in the Lower 48 states.
December 31, 2021-Jan 3, 2022: Sheepscot River, in and near Georgetown, Maine.
January 6-9, 2021 around East and West Boothbay, Maine. Unconfirmed sightings since the 9th, but it is likely the bird is still in the area (as of Jan 11th).
January 11-?, 2021 Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

This bird is named for German naturalist and explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller, for whom Steller’s Jay and the very rare Steller’s Eider are also named, as well as Steller’s sea lion. Although both Steller and all of these species could be described as stellar, the naturalist’s name is not related to the stars and is spelled with two e’s rather than an e and an a.

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