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'Once in a lifetime' | Birders flock to see extremely rare Steller's Sea Eagle

The bird is native to Russia, but one has popped up in Georgetown two years in a row.

GEORGETOWN, Maine — An incredibly rare visitor from away has been attracting crowds each day this week in the midcoast.

A Steller’s sea-eagle has returned to the Georgetown area, and birders have flocked in droves to snap a photo or just catch a glimpse through a scope. 

The bird is native to Siberia, and was first spotted last winter. Biologists and photographers alike say the same exact bird has returned. 

Topsham native and professional photographer Jeff Morris said he and others who were gathered remarked that the eagle settled in a tree right next to where it hung around last winter.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime bird," he said.

On Wednesday, there were a few dozen curious visitors at any given time on the bridge spanning the Back River between Georgetown and Arrowsic, and some passing motorists gestured their displeasure for being slowed down. 

The group was a social bunch, and those who brought a scope were eager to share and help others have the rare view.

One woman, with what appeared to be the largest camera in the crowd, remarked that she had a long drive back to Rhode Island ahead of her, but was satisfied having snapped some shots of the eagle.

Kent and Betty Kijewski had a much shorter trek from Thomaston, but were just as excited to be there.

"We’re talking an eight-foot wingspan, man!" Betty exclaimed.

Morris was happy to find some repeat admirers on the bridge.

"It’s been neat to talk to people from all over the place, people coming from Texas and Florida," he said. "I’ve run across a couple of the same people who were here last year, so, we’ve kind of reconnected a little bit. And it’s been fun meeting a lot of different people."

Maine Audubon Naturalist Doug Hitchcox explained the Mainers who are able to make the short trip and see the eagle are getting an experience many people pay lots of money for; where they must travel to the far reaches of Siberia or land off the coast of Japan for the same sighting. He was thrilled to see the same bird return to Maine.

"If you asked me two years ago if a Steller’s sea-eagle could be in Maine, I’d say no way," he smiled.

"It's absolutely wonderful," Hitchcox continued. "We've got one of the most charismatic eagles in the world now sitting here in midcoast Maine."

Despite the money-shots and high-powered cameras, Betty Kijewski had a refreshing perspective.

"Even if we got here and didn't see him, it's still fun," she shrugged.

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