A Giant Eagle Named Kodiak Is on the Loose in Pittsburgh

A Giant Eagle Named Kodiak Is on the Loose in Pittsburgh
Kodiak attracting attention on a Pittsburgh street. (Photo: Jared Latchaw)

Officials with the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are imploring the public to report sightings of a Steller’s sea eagle, which escaped from its enclosure this past Saturday. Multiple sightings have been reported, but the bird has so far managed to evade capture.

Kodiak has lived at the aviary for the past 15 years, so this may be a stressful time for him. Either that, or the bird is having an adventure of a lifetime. Regardless, officials with the National Aviary want him back, as he’s now out in wild — or in this case, the hustle and bustle of urban Pittsburgh.

Aviary staff members have been searching for Kodiak, or Kody as he’s affectionately called, in the city’s north side and along rivers, but to no avail. That said, officials don’t believe he’s gone very far. Kody’s not deemed a threat to pets nor humans, and people are asked to report sightings by calling the National Aviary.

Why did the sea eagle cross the road? We may never know. (Photo: Jared Latchaw) Why did the sea eagle cross the road? We may never know. (Photo: Jared Latchaw)

Multiple sightings of the bird have been reported since his escape. Pittsburgh resident Jared Latchaw was driving when he spotted Kodiak sitting in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue on the city’s north side.

“I thought there was a chicken in the middle of the road,” he told me in a text message. “A group of runners stopped me and said a bird from the National Aviary got out, so I got out my car and watched him for ten minutes — it was super cool,” said Latchaw, adding, “Made my day!”

The public is being asked not to approach or attempt to capture the bird, as “he is more likely to fly away from anyone unfamiliar to him,” according to the National Aviary. He’s considered to be in excellent health and a trooper when it comes to dealing with various weather conditions. As the aviary pointed out in a tweet, “eagles are very resilient birds and in the wild they do not eat every day.”

That said, Steller’s sea eagles, a species native to coastal northeastern Asia, primarily feed on fish and water birds. Kody has been fed by humans for his entire life, so it’s an open question as to whether he’s actually capable of hunting for himself.

The National Aviary provided this image of a Stellar's sea eagle in flight for reference. (Image: National Aviary) The National Aviary provided this image of a Stellar’s sea eagle in flight for reference. (Image: National Aviary)

On Saturday morning, a thick wire used to enclose the eagle “had a gap in one area that was not there before,” explained the National Aviary in a tweet, adding that “this is extremely unusual.” An investigation has been launched, but aviary officials worry that the details of what happened will never be known. Kody’s habitat, “like all habitats at the National Aviary, is carefully designed with the safety and comfort of our birds as our highest priority,” according to a tweet.

On a positive note, Kodiak is easy to spot, with dark brown and white wings, a large yellow beak, and a 1.83 m wingspan. Stellar’s sea eagles are larger than bald eagles and are among the largest living raptors.

The National Aviary, which hosts more than 500 birds from roughly 150 different species, has been closed while the team focuses on the rescue mission.