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Thousands of miles from home and seemingly enjoying its stay, a giant Asian bird with a wingspan of 8 feet has been reported flying around Massachusetts.The Steller’s sea eagle is native to China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and eastern Russia. In a Facebook post, the Massachusetts’ Division of Fisheries and Wildlife said the bird was last spotted along the Taunton River, at least 5,000 miles from home.
The Steller’s sea eagle is native to China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and eastern Russia.
Reports of the bird have been circulating since August 2020, when it was spotted in Alaska. According to the Smithsonian, the bird was then seen in Texas and later on the east coast of Canada near Nova Scotia in November 2021.
The bird’s unique white wing markings make it easy to discern from other species.
A Steller’s Sea Eagle has been spotted in North America.
As Alex Lees, a lecturer of conservation biology at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom, told NPR, it’s likely the bird lost its way because of a physiological issue, “a failure to switch off the instinct to disperse or a failure of its navigatory apparatus.”
The Steller’s Sea Eagle has unique white markings on its wings.
Steller’s sea eagles and other large birds are known to go through a “phase of wandering” early in life, Lees said, but that usually lasts less than a year. The fact that the bird spotted in Massachusetts is still at large in North America after longer than a year may indicate a new permanent residence.
The bird was most recently spotted in Massachusetts.
“It may be doomed to perpetually wander in search of a member of its own species, remaining in suitable areas for months perhaps, but the urge to wander to find a mate may drive it to keep moving,” Lees said. “It is still possible that this individual may find its way back, but the longer it stays the less likely this seems.”