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Steller’s Sea-Eagle Spotted by Taunton River

Never before seen in the Eastern U.S., it dwarfs the smaller Bald Eagle

By Peter Alden

Steller's Sea Eagle in Taunton, MA | Photo by Glen Chretien

I jumped in my car early yesterday morning with my friend Simon Perkins to chase a super rarity. The most exciting bird found in Massachusetts in decades had been seen for several days by hundreds of birders along the Taunton River in Bristol County.

It is the spectacular Steller’s Sea-Eagle of Kamchatka Peninsula and vicinity of eastern Siberia, Russia. The only site birders flock to see it is in eastern Hokkaido, Japan in wintertime. There are a few Alaska records, but it has never been seen anywhere in the eastern U.S. One was spotted this summer and fall in eastern Canada moving around the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec and sites in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Rare bird chasers who would have driven or flown to Canada in an instant to see it were denied entry due to Covid-19 border closures. It likely flew down the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire and Boston area without being noticed.

One of the world’s largest eagles, it dwarfs the much smaller Bald Eagles of which a dozen are present on the Taunton River as well these days. Its massive deep yellow bill is far heavier than on our Bald Eagle. Its body is very dark brown with enormous white area at shoulder of its wing. It has heavily feathered white thighs and a very long white wedge-shaped tail. Its legs and feet are bright yellow. It feeds mainly on fish and some ducks.

It is has been seen at Dighton Rock State Park in southwest Berkley off Bayview Avenue. I arrived at parking lot close to the river viewpoint. Other birders were there sharing views through an array of telescopes. And there it was! A lifer for me and Simon. When I arrived home I send a writeup to the Boston Globe.

Join Peter Alden and others on tomorrow, December 22nd at 10:00 am - Peter will be at Dighton Rock State Park in Berkley MA (near Taunton) Wednesday at 10 a.m. to mix with 100's of bird chasers.

This is a once in a lifetime event to see one of the world’s most wanted to see birds without fighting off Brown Bears and mosquitoes in Kamchatka. Latest sightings may be found on eBird site (of Cornell) or MassBird or check with birders who may dash off on latest word of its whereabouts.Other sites to check are Shaw’s Boat Yard in Dighton, Mallard Point in northeast Somerset and Assonet Bay from Cliff Drive in northwest Freetown.

To get an idea of the size of the Steller's Sea-Eagle, see this image of Rex at the Eagle Heights Wildlife Foundation (EHWF) in Eynsford, Kent, England. Courtesy of The Independent.



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