THE STELLER’S SEA EAGLE HAS NOT BEEN SEEN IN MAINE SINCE JANUARY 25th AND IT COULD BE ANYWHERE IN THE REGION!
Cape Ann residents, please keep your eyes peeled for the rare Steller’s Sea Eagle. It may still be in Maine, but the way this phenomenal creature moves around, it may have returned to Massachusetts. One of my readers thinks she saw the Steller’s back in autumn on Eastern Point, prior to when it was observed in Taunton, MA. At the time, she didn’t realize how rare and unusual the sighting.
Based on its observed behavior in the Boothbay area, the Steller’s Sea Eagle appears to like a similar winter habitat to that of our local Bald Eagles, near the mouth of open rivers and waterways where fish, ducks, geese, seabirds, and other water birds are preyed upon. The Annisquam River, Merrimack River, Essex Bay area, and Parker River Wildlife Refuge may be of particular interest to the Steller’s. The SSE also likes to perch in very tall pines.
Please share if you even suspect you see this very special vagrant! Feel free to leave a comment or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In case you missed the wonderfully informational webinar hosted by Maine Audubon’s Doug Hitchcox and Nick Lund, you can watch the full program on youtube. Here is the link.
Beginning three winters ago, American Pipits have been spotted consistently all around Eastern Point. The first year, the winter of 2019-2020, there was a pair that could be located daily without fail. Last year, three were present, again throughout the colder months. And this year there has been a mini flock of up to seven seen at any one time.
Lately, I have been running into birders from out of state and out of town who are here to see the Pipits and are very excited by their presence. When I tell them they have been on Eastern Point steadily for several years, they look at me askantly.
What to look for – The Pipit’s shape reminds me of a slimmer version of the American Robin, with winter plumage in shades of gray and brown. American Pipits have a very cute way of continuously waggling their long tail feathers when bobbing around the seaweed and rocks.
Pipits like to forage amongst rocks, at the wrack line, and along the sandy part of the beach where there are seed heads of wildflowers and grasses.. As you can see from the map, Massachusetts is north of the Pipit’s winter range. If you see a Pipit at any of our area beaches, please write and let us know and even better, please try to take a photo and we will share it here. The more documentation, the better!
The following is a collection of photos from the past three winters, including this winter.
Winter 2022 – two clearly different shades of breast feathers on theses two individualsAmerican Pipit beach camo
This past week I made the trek to Boothbay Harbor to sea the rare Steller’s Sea Eagle. Traveling from Cape Ann to Boothbay, you need a chunk of time, of which I am in short supply, but Thursday on a whim I jumped out of bed and decided it was now or never.
The drive took about 3.5 hours, including a brief stop at St. Joe’s Coffee shop in York for some of their sublime chocolate dipped bennies (beignets). Despite overcast skies and an occasional snow squall, the rugged beauty of the Maine coastline was arrestingly beautiful. Towering pine forests meet rocky shores, along with a dusting of snow covering the ground and the frost-glazed boulders made for a very enjoyable drive.
I drove directly to the Maine State Aquarium (closed for the season), where there is ample parking. Shortly after arriving, the Aquarium was flooded with a troop of avid nature lovers having just come from a resort several miles down the road where they had seen the bird fly in the direction of the Aquarium. About half an hour later, the Steller’s Sea Eagle flew directly overhead, to the opposite side of the harbor from where we were standing, to the Factory Cove area. She/he stayed perched atop one of the tallest pines along the tree line for the remainder of the morning, barely moving. She appeared relatively unfazed by the murder of Crows that harassed her in spirts of activity throughout the morning.
The SSE was situated roughly one to two miles away, which is much too far for my camera to get a good photo. It would have been so interesting to see her up close, to get a better idea of her enormity, but it was wonderful fun to witness all the folks that were there also enjoying a chance to catch a glimpse of this rare phenomenon. The onlookers ranged in age from from toddler to the oldest grannies and I was delighted to see tons of teenagers and college students there as well. There were perhaps 60 people or so at any given time and twice that many coming and going. No one drove to the other side of the harbor to flush her out and rest assured, the crowd of onlookers was so very far away from her location, we weren’t in any way compromising her ability to hunt and to rest. We saw a number of Long-tailed Ducks and Loons and I imagine Boothbay Harbor is providing plentiful ducks and seabirds for a hungry eagle.
Above photo taken by Mark S. Allen on Saturday, January 15, 2022
Photo by Cheryl Leathram
Unfortunately the heater had stopped functioning in my car on the drive to Boothbay so I departed early afternoon. The Eagle was still in the exact same spot when I left the Aquarium.
A note about the Steller’s Sea-Eagle – By weight, the Steller’s Sea Eagle is the largest eagle in the world. SSEagles live in coastal northeastern Asia and breed on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the coastal area around the Sea of Okhotsk, the lower reaches of the Amur River and on northern Sakhalin and the Shantar Islands, Russia. The majority of birds winter south of their breeding range, in the southern Kuril Islands, Russia and Hokkaidō, Japan. Steller’s Sea Eagles prey on fish and waterbirds, including seagulls. See the video below to learn more about “The Story of America’s Rarest Eagle.” Link here to read Maine Audubon’s latest updates.
Cape Ann resident and friend Pat Morss, who also loves our local wildlife, shares several photos his daughter Jeannette took of the Steller’s Sea-Eagle. The photos were taken yesterday, December 31st, in the Georgetown, Maine area. Thank you Pat for sharing!!
The best part of the story is that if you go to see the eagle, a kindly lobsterman, Robbie Pinkham, is taking small groups of folks out on his boat to a more accessible location to observe the bird. He isn’t charging, but gladly accepts tips 🙂
To learn more about the Steller’s Sea-Eagle travels through North America see previous post here:
Check out this outstanding video by Ian Davies that tells the story of a wandering Steller’s Sea Eagle, which is one of the rarest eagles in the world. Although from Asia, for the first time in history, the Steller’s was recently seen in Massachusetts in the Taunton River area.
Look for the Sea Eagle’s very large yellow bill, white feathered shoulders, and dramatic wingspan, up to eight feet! If you happen to be so fortunate as to observe the Steller’s Sea-Eagle please take a photo and please share. Thank you.