The intrepid Steller’s Sea-Eagle is basically an endangered species native to Russia and Japan. It had NEVER been spotted in Canada or the Lower 48 states until this past summer. Startlingly, one was photographed in New Brunswick, Canada in July, 2021. Covid and location made it impossible for anyone but the game wardens to see it. This vagrant disappeared after a few days and a month later showed up near Halifax, Nova Scotia. After another brief visit, it wasn’t located again until early December … Taunton, Massachusetts. Again, a two-day stay and poof…..the “largest eagle in the world” (20 pounds with an eight foot wingspan) was gone. Not to be found again until 3:30pm on December 30….in Georgetown, Maine. National publications have been tracking this incredible individual’s travels.

Lucky for me, I was only 268 miles from Georgetown on Friday, December 31. But it was New Year’s eve. Family and friends were planning to gather at our Vermont home. Was there time to chase this MEGA-rarity, maintain relationships and show up at work on Monday? Yes! Provided one sleeps only three hours, has a VERY understanding spouse, flexible houseguests and a forgiving daughter and agreeable paddle tennis teammates who had already been “calendared” on January 1 & 2 for activities in Haverford, Pa.

Accompanied by my adventurous buddy (Joe Knowles), we left Vermont at 4am New Year’s day, arranged to collect my lifelong friend Jeff Dingle…..THE friend that introduced me to birding in 1968….in NH, and headed to Maine. By 9am we had not received any sighting reports so we drove to the spot our bird was last seen a day earlier. But where were the birders? We expected to see a crowd given that 250 people had posted on e-bird December 31st. Then Joe checked his phone for any possible listserv updates.

We drove the foggy and winding 2.9 miles (in what felt like an hour) to the Five Islands Lobster Company located at the end of a pier. As we approached the sea coast, dozens of cars lined the road. Our hearts raced as we knew the distant bird could disappear behind an island at any moment or become obscured by the accumulating fog. Thankfully the birding Gods delivered an impossibly wonderful New Year’s gift.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your 2022 starts off as well as ours did.

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to BIRD OF THE CENTURY…..Happy New Year!

  1. Deborah Glass says:

    Happy New Year George! What a gift. That one must have been a distant hope of attaining. Glad for you that it happened. Best to Nina.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Deborah E. Glass 610-999-6031 (c)


  2. Mace says:


  3. says:

    WooHoo!!! Dingle has the gift too!


  4. esmnyc says:

    Bravo, George!!!  Happy New Year!!!

    Edwin S. Maynard | Of Counsel Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP 1285 Avenue of the Americas | New York, NY 10019-6064 +1 212 373 3024 (Direct Phone) | +1 212 492 0024 (Direct Fax) |

    From: birdtalesblog <> Date: Sunday, Jan 02, 2022, 2:32 PM To: Maynard, Edwin S <> Subject: [New post] BIRD OF THE CENTURY…..Happy New Year!

    George C. Wood posted: " The intrepid Steller’s Sea-Eagle is basically an endangered species native to Russia and Japan. It had NEVER been spotted in Canada or the Lower 48 states until this past summer. Startlingly, one was photographed in New Brunswick, Canada in July, 2021. C"

  5. jmbuck3 says:

    Way to carpe the diem there, Woody. Given how many moving parts and people you had there in VT, I’d say yours was truly a “it takes a village…” moment. Congratulations on this historic sighting!

  6. Mary Bennett says:

    Woohoo!! Go Woody!! That bird is incredible!!

    Mary Bennett Inergizeplus- Energized Living from the Inside Out (h) 203-655-3525 (c) 203-536-2237


  7. joek49 says:

    An amazing creature to see and experience and a spectacular moment to share, this was a New Year’s morning to be remembered!

  8. sbscanlon says:

    Nice! Congrats and happy new year George

  9. Norman Liedtke says:

    GW…. An amazing story how many levels… Can I buy the movie rIghts? Congratulations to the three of you for your dedication, persistence, and birding talent! HNY

  10. Andrew Mozino says:

    George how do these birds always know how to find you?? Guess that’s why H has so many great boys. YOU!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  11. William Conrad says:

    Happy New Year George,
    I have been wondering if you would add the Stellar’s Sea Eagle to your list- Congratulations!!

  12. Nina Weisbord says:

    Even thrilling for the VERY understanding spouse! Great omen for 2022!

  13. Joe Weisbord says:

    Spectacular, George!! And what a way to start the year. I hope it’s a portent for more rare, wild and beautiful things in 2022.

  14. Jeff Day says:

    Way to go, GCW’75 (& Jeff & Joe)! What an adventure and capture. And, what a great part of the coast of Maine. Fun fact: Bates operates nearby Morse Mountain for coastal research/preservation. More here:

  15. Michael Parish says:

    Awesome!!! Happy Year!

    Michael 415 218 9319

    Sent from my iPhone


  16. Anne says:

    I know that location George. Great lobster shack! Congrats on your special sighting and HNY to you and your understanding spouse xx Anne

  17. BP says:


  18. Jeff Watkinson says:

    happy new year. great pics.
    I love following your birding adventures

  19. Michael Reese says:

    Way to go GW – Congrats!

  20. Jeff Swarr says:

    Great story and photos George. Thy cup runneth over!

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