Stealthy Steller’s Sea Eagle

A few species like to wander from time to time, and this is a story of one such bird.

Back on August 30th, 2020 Josh Parks, observed and photographed a Steller’s Sea Eagle north of Anchorage and reported it on eBird.

A great many people saw this report and thought “damn that would be a good bird” but Covid-19, limited travel so, we didn’t have much hope of going to see this bird.

Fast forward to March 10th and we were again surprised to find a Facebook posting with photo or a Steller’s Sea Eagle, at the Coleto Creek Reservoir, in Texas. When people saw this they thought it was incredulous, that this species could make it to Texas from its home range, over 2,000 miles away.

Many people thought this bird was an escapee, but with all 20 US captive birds accounted for in zoo’s, this theory doesn’t hold much water.

Many birds are one day wonders and the Texas bird is no exception, seen and photographed once.

Fast forward to June 29 and a report of a Steller’s Sea Eagle found on the Restigouche River Lowland Islands by Ranger Gerry Isaac, with photos.

I waited to hear more news but I also had a few things to do, including Canada Day celebrations with family and decided to leave July 2nd, if the bird was reported again.

Paul Martin expressed interest in going and at 4 am we left from Ottawa. Stopping only for gas we arrived in Campbellton, at 1pm and started searching for the bird.

Many others were doing the same and it didn’t take long to figure out this wasn’t going to be an easy bird to find.

Paull and I spent many hours just looking…


But after a 2 days it was apparent to us all that the bird had left the area. We met many birders from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and shared contact info in case the bird showed up in the area again.

Next day saw a us prepare for the long trip home, arriving late Sunday 4th.

The next week went by filled with the usual golf, kayaking and fishing and the week was winding down, when I received a text from Gilles Belliveau that the eagle had been re-found. It had gone further away and been photographed in the York River Marshlands. This was 12 hours away but I knew right away, I was going.

I called Paul Martin to see if he was interested and he said let’s go. I also called most of the Ontario birders who missed it in Restigouche, to let them know about the bird being refound.

Of we went again, arriving at 11am, only to find out the bird had left the area. Talk about a downer moment. Just like the week before we set about checking the area, spending the rest of the day, waiting and hoping.

We stayed at the birds last location until sunset, with no joy. I don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow, I was so tired. We were up at 4am, everything was closed and without our morning coffee, off we went. We stopped at the first lookout, scoping the area but except for Bald Eagle’s, no other bird could be seen.

We had just gotten back in the car, when my phone rang, saw it was Bruce calling me, with those wonderful excited words “I’ve got the bird in my scope”. The next few minutes were a blur, I was so excited I missed the stop where Bruce was. Realizing this I pulled a u-turn at what seemed like 80km per hour (maybe it was).

The rest as they say is in the books:

The Bird

The Finder

The Happy Ontario Birders

All this and It was only 6am, so we headed into town, grabbed a coffee and breakfast, at the MacDonalds, drive through. go figure Tim Hortons is closed on Sunday’s.

Paul and I decided to leave for home and bird all the way back, lovely views, many good birds, including a lifer Bicknell’s Thrush for Paul Martin.

Bicknell’s Thrush
Celebration Beer
Philadelphia Vireo

Tennessee Warbler

Last look at a Great Bird

Ciao for now, til next time

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