Imagine being lost for a year and a half, desperately trying to get back on the path to home, which might be as much as 4700 miles away. You try one direction and it lands you in Alaska, you try another, and you’re possibly in Texas, then Quebec, then Nova Scotia, then Massachusetts, specifically the lower Taunton River. You’re alone, the only one of your species; the best you can hope for to meet your social needs is a similar predator species, such as the bald eagle.
Birders all over the country are hyperventilating over the random appearance of a Steller’s Sea Eagle, native to coastal China and eastern Russia, and considered one of the world’s largest raptors. It lost its way mid-2020 through what is called vagrancy. There are a couple of primary reasons why vagrancy occurs. Often, a bird will make a navigational error, which doesn’t inspire quite as much sympathy as the other reason why vagrancy occurs, that is, extreme weather. Scientists are happy to point out the upside of vagrancy, despite birds’ own wishes not to be affixed with the “vagrant” label. With natural habitats becoming altered through climate change, accidental transport sometimes allows for a species to test out a new territory.
It saddens me that this one remarkable bird — to even see pictures of it inspires awe with its splendid markings and enormous wingspan — is so obviously and desperately trying to find the way home. . . alone. We’re all pulling for him (or her), hopeful that with all this crisscrossing of our continent, the right path will be stumbled upon (or flown onto).
This is a great site, kept fresh and interesting by birdwatchers who report on bird sightings: https://ebird.org/species/stseag