Asia-native Steller’s sea eagle spotted in Massachusetts for first time

Wildlife officials in Massachusetts confirmed a Steller’s sea eagle, a species native to Asia, has been spotted in the state for the first time.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife said the Steller’s sea eagle was first spotted last week along the Taunton River in Massachusetts.

Birders have since been flocking to the area to catch a glimpse of sea eagle, which experts said can grow to up to 20 pounds with a wingspan of up to 8 feet.

Officials said they have no idea how the bird, native to Asia, came to be in the wild in Massachusetts.

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

The Division of Fisheries & Wildlife said the eagle is believed to be the same bird spotted over the course of the past year in locations including Alaska, Canada and Texas.

The first sighting occurred in August 2020 along Alaska’s Denali Highway. Experts said the bird may have ended up in Alaska after being thrown off course by weather.

“It’s like an avian soap opera,” avian vagrancy expert Alexander Lees told the New York Times in November. “We’re all rooting for it. Will it make it home? Or is it doomed to never see another species of its own in its lifetime?”