An extremely rare and massive arctic bird from northeast Russia, known as the Steller’s Sea-Eagle, has found its way to the coast of Maine, captivating the national press and the hearts of professional and amateur birders around the country. First sighted in Georgetown on December 30, the eagle has been hanging out in Boothbay Harbor recently, causing quite the stir in the off-season.
Boothbay Harbor has always been a popular tourist destination in the summer, referred to as the “boating capital of New England.” Its charming downtown is bustling with boutiques and award-winning restaurants, and the picturesque harbor is spanned by a 1,000-foot-long footbridge. The famous Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and network of hiking trails around the peninsula are ideal for day trips. It’s also one of the three ports in Maine offering ferries to Monhegan Island, a remote artist’s retreat 12 miles off the coast with hiking trails and a small year-round population.
But the unlikely appearance of the Steller’s Sea-Eagle this winter has brought a new kind of crowd to the area. Stephanie Branch, a Boothbay Harbor native and agent from our Damariscotta office, says the flocks of bird watchers and excitement in the region have been noticeable. “Our community has been graced with the rare Steller’s Sea-Eagle, far from its home,” she says. “Local photographer and Instagram user @manbythesea has been following the bird and capturing its appearances around the harbor. Everyone is following his live stories on Instagram.”
Maine Public Radio interviewed people who had traveled from Baltimore and Tennessee for a chance to see the rare bird.
Other agents from across the state are hoping to see the eagle in person. “I don’t fancy myself as a birder, although I have tried to keep an identification list since I was in my teens,” says Elaine Prendergast, an agent from the Kennebunk office. She tries to keep track of the snowy owls who frequent the southern Maine coast and is planning a trip to Boothbay Harbor to try to see the Steller’s Sea-Eagle. “Hopefully we can keep tabs on this magnificent bird’s travels!”
Back in June, Prendergast took several photos of a snowy owl perched on the chimney of a house near the Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport. “It was unusual to see him in June,” she said. “He was watching boats go in and out of the river.”
“I think they actually look back at us crazy humans and think we are quite comical,” says Prendergast.
Learn more about the Steller’s Sea-Eagle in this excerpt from the Audobon article, “Inside the Amazing Cross-Continent Saga of the Steller’s Sea-Eagle“:
Everything about seeing a Steller’s Sea-Eagle in New England is incredible. It’s an awe-inspiring bird—about a foot longer and taller than an adult Bald Eagle and as many as five pounds heavier, with a massive golden bill that looks like pirate treasure. It’s rare: There are only about 4,000 of this vulnerable species left in the wild, compared to hundreds of thousands of Bald Eagles. And of course, it’s not supposed to be here. Steller’s Sea-Eagles are native to far eastern Russia, the Korean peninsula, and northern Japan.
Follow updates on the bird’s whereabouts in the Maine Audobon “Rare Bird Alert” column.
Looking to live in this beautiful area? Explore some of the homes for sale in the Boothbay Harbor region below:
111 Bristol Road, Damariscotta, Maine
Offered at $525,000
Represented by Katherine Leeman & Cristina Stirratt
This 3-bedroom historic home in Damariscotta is in walking distance to the waterfront. The property is on nearly 2 acres and has lots of character. Built in 1820, the home retains many original details and charm, including hardwood floors, two fireplaces, a red wood stove and a beautiful sunroom. The updated kitchen features expansive granite countertops, tile backsplash, and double ovens. Learn more about this property here.
71 Plummer Road, Southport, Maine
Offered at $497,000
Represented by Laura Blake
This cozy 2-bedroom waterfront cottage on Southport Island was recently converted from a seasonal camp to a year-round home. Nestled on the sleepy shores of Decker Cove with 176 feet of waterfront. Learn more about this property here.
116 Pleasant Cove Road, Boothbay, Maine
Offered at $459,500
Represented by Stephanie Branch
This charming brand new barn-style property in Boothbay features a fully-furnished one-bedroom apartment upstairs and a two-car garage and work area downstairs. Features include a high-efficiency woodstove and an original 1840s gilded weathervane on the roof. Learn more about this property here.