A Stellar Sighting: Finding the Steller’s Sea Eagle

In our Natural History and Ecology of the Maine Coast class we have been talking a lot about birding. Luckily for us we got to put down the Steller’s Sea Eagle as the first bird on our new bird watching lists. The Steller’s Sea Eagle, is a giant eagle from Siberia/Russia with an eight foot wingspan, it almost never comes into the United States. However this year we got to see a Steller’s Sea Eagle ¨Stella¨, who managed to get lost and wind up in Maine not once but twice. We all knew that last year’s spring semester got to see her, but it was very uncertain if we would get to as well. The Tuesday field lab group came back to campus after a successful Stella sighting but unfortunately for my Thursday field lab group, Stella was nowhere to be found. However, we did have a lot of fun talking to Maine’s birding community, a Maine Coast Semester alumni, and going to the Five Islands to look at water birds and practiced using our binoculars.  

The next day at lunch, Megan, one of our Science teachers, made the announcement that Stella had been sighted resting in her favorite tree. We were all very excited to get the opportunity to go see her. Four hours later, after our work programs and classes had ended, Megan, two of our teaching fellows, and about eight other students including myself packed into one of the vans and set off to go look for Stella. Megan told us that we might not be able to see her but we arrived at the bridge where she was last seen in high hopes. The very small group of people on the bridge made us nervous that Stella wasn’t there but when we found out that she was perched in a tree half a mile away. We couldn’t set up the scopes and binoculars fast enough. We were all able to get a good look at her through our binoculars and then we realized that Stella wasn’t alone, there was a bald eagle sitting in a tree near her.  We couldn’t get enough of these two amazing birds and stood there watching them for close to thirty minutes. 

Before seeing Stella I wasn’t really into birding but I told myself that I would be missing out if I didn’t go and try to see her. Seeing Stella completely changed my perspective on birding because it was a once and a lifetime experience and the collective excitement that everyone felt when we got to see her really bonded us together. It gave me a new appreciation for the art of birding and how amazing it was to get to see such a rare bird.

Dunedin Imbier-Maher, Lincoln School, Providence, RI

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