The Steller's sea eagle is spotted eating a duck in Boothbay, Maine in January 2022. Credit: Courtesy of Steven Ditzler

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It was nearly a year ago that a rare bird — the Steller’s sea eagle — made an appearance in Maine.

There are only a few thousand of these birds in the entire world. These impressive birds of prey have an 8-foot wingspan and “honking” yellow bill, as one observer described it last winter. Their usual habitat is in eastern Russia and they fly south to the Korean Peninsula or Japan for the winter.

The sea eagle that landed in Maine, which was thousands of miles from its typical home, received a big reception when it popped up along the coast.

Birders from around Maine and the Northeast flocked to the Georgetown area to see the sea eagle. Hundreds of bird watchers visited the midcoast hoping for a glimpse of the unusual visitor and some lobstermen even offered tours in their boats.

It made for a wonderful, if unusual, celebration to close out 2021 and start the new year.

“I don’t even know what to compare it to. We often say these [rarities] shouldn’t be here. This bird should not even be on this continent,” Maine Audubon naturalist Doug Hitchcox told the Portland Press Herald last December. “But because there are only about 4,000 in the world, you could travel the world birding and never see one. And it’s an hour from my home.”

It appears the bird stayed in Maine until sometime in February. A sea eagle — perhaps the same one — was spotted in Nova Scotia in April. It was likely a return trip to Asia or Russia, according to Maine Audubon.

Dare we hope for a return visit to Maine? Perhaps. A sea eagle was photographed in New Brunswick, Canada, in late November, according to a Steller’s sea eagle Twitter page (yes, one exists). There were reports of a sea eagle in Newfoundland in early November.

Hitchcox said this fall that a return visit is possible as the bird migrates south for the winter.

Gov. Janet Mills was among the lucky Mainers to previously spot the huge, rare bird. She and two state commissioners took a boat ride to get a look at the bird in mid-January when it settled around Boothbay Harbor, according to the Press Herald.

“Once I spotted it, I was struck by its sheer gracefulness as it flew across the sky. And I was grateful to have witnessed its journey,” Mills said in an email to the paper.

“I certainly hope that the sea eagle — and birders hoping to see it again — will return to Maine for a visit soon,” she said.

We do too, governor. We do too.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...