A Steller’s Sea Eagle has been seen in downtown Juneau – far afield from its habitat of eastern Russia.
Research wildlife biologist Dave Douglas saw the rare eagle Friday morning when he was looking out the window of his office in the NOAA building on Gastineau Channel.
He says the bird was inflight at about 200 feet, “and it was back dropped against the dark spruces, the dark of the mountain. You know the first thing that catches my eye is the glaring white and dark contrast on its wings.”
The bird had bright white on its wings. Douglas says for the first second he was “trying to coerce himself” into thinking it was a guillemot or a white-winged scoter.
“But yet it’s huge. It’s undisputedly an eagle. So then I try to wrestle for another second or so thinking that a bald eagle has something stuck on its wings, like white garbage bags, or something, (or) it flew through some paint, I don’t know, something,” he says. “Then it had just perfect form. There was nothing trailing or stuck on this eagle.”
He described what he was seeing to a colleague – a professional birder — who confirmed it was the Steller’s Sea Eagle. He says he jumped on the Internet and was quickly viewing what he had just seen in flight.
Douglas conducts satellite tracking studies for the U.S. Geological Service’s Alaska Science Center. In past jobs, he has spent countless hours identifying birds for the U.S. Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service, but he had never seen the rare eagle in the field.
Word of the sighting spread through an online eagle chat forum, confirming a story that a Steller’s Sea Eagle was seen up the Taku River about 1989.
Steller’s Sea Eagles are most commonly found on the Kamchatka Peninsula, where they breed. In the winter many individuals migrate to Japan, while others move to open water. Annual salmon runs provide much of their diet.
Douglas says they are occasionally seen in the Kodiak area. Click here for more information on the Steller’s Sea Eagle.
- These are the days when a president turns to thoughts of legacy. As the months tick down on this Administration, President Obama has created a marine national monument off new England and last month vastly expanded one near Hawaii. Alaska interest groups are working to get his attention, too. Some want him to take bold action in the 49th State before he leaves office, and others are urging him to resist those calls.
- Homer Electric Association held an informational meeting on September 28 to answer questions about the upcoming vote on deregulation. The meeting, which was held at Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, attracted more than 100 people. The overwhelming majority were HEA customers who expressed concerns about the consequences of deregulation.
- Bob Banghart is developing the musical score for the upcoming stage adaptation at Arena Stage in Washington D.C.
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, were met by a large crowd, music and dancing in Carcross this week. They event was part of a larger tour around the Yukon after traveling through British Columbia. The visit focused on First Nations issues and culture.