Kodiak, the sea eagle still missing in Pittsburgh, has had quite the weekend | Pittsburgh City Paper

Kodiak, the sea eagle still missing in Pittsburgh, has had quite the weekend

click to enlarge Kodiak, the sea eagle still missing in Pittsburgh, has had quite the weekend
Photo: courtesy the National Aviary
Kodiak the Steller's Sea Eagle
On Sept. 25, a Steller’s Sea Eagle who lives within Pittsburgh’s National Aviary, apparently escaped its enclosure. The large bird, named Kodiak, has been on the loose ever since, with some intermittent sightings, but no capture and return to the North Side facility.

The National Aviary has asked people who encounter Kodiak to keep their distance and report the sighting to the aviary by calling 412-323-7235. As of Mon., Sept. 27 at 11:30 a.m., the aviary reported that officials are still searching for Kodiak, and believe the raptor is still nearby in Pittsburgh’s North Side.

During the days since Kodiak has been away from home, many have been boosting efforts to find the bird by sharing sightings on social media.

Kodiak, who has lived in the aviary for about 15 years, escaped sometime in the morning of Sept. 25 and shortly after, he was spotted somewhere in the North Side by several people. The police and humane society were on the scene, but Kodiak flew away and evaded capture.

The bird was seen on Pennsylvania Avenue in Manchester. According to KDKA, Kodiak was spotted by a group of runners.
Another tweet on Sept. 26 shared a silhouette of an apparent bird sitting in the parking garage near the Cork Factory apartment complex in the Strip District, however this silhouette does not match the description of a Steller’s Sea Eagle, which are very large and grow up to 3 feet tall, and have a very broad beak. As one commenter pointed out, the silhouette was likely a statue of a hawk that is meant to ward off pigeons.

The National Aviary believes Kodiak, nicknamed Kody, is still in the North Side, either in the neighborhood or along the rivers.

Searching for the bird has become so popular in such a short amount of time that one social media account was created specifically to help. It’s a parody account that is not associated with the aviary, called “Kodiak the stellar Steller's Sea Eagle” (@FollowThatBurgh), which was started up this weekend, infused with helpful tips about spotting the Steller’s Sea Eagles and a mix of parody and comedy.

The person behind the account, a Brookline resident who asked to remain anonymous, spoke with Pittsburgh City Paper and said they started the account to help track the details of Kodiak sightings and raise awareness about the bird’s disappearance.

“I was worried about [Kodiak], and I saw the tweets from the aviary and the city and the retweet count was low initially,” said the Brookline resident. “The local news has picked it up since and so I think more people are aware, but it seemed early on like injecting some humor into the situation might get people more involved.”
The parody account has shared some information about Steller’s Sea Eagles, which are one of the largest birds of prey and live in the Northern Pacific coasts of Russia, Korea, and Japan. They say that Kodiak’s disappearance is no laughing matter, but they hope the account's mix of comedy and information will help continue to keep awareness high in the search for Kodiak.

“It's a tricky line to walk because the matter at hand isn't really very funny, other than perhaps some amusement at the novelty of such a bird being out and about,” said the resident. “The concerns for his safety and return are really serious, though. That said, humor is generally my go-to coping mechanism. I also think it is one thing that helps get people's attention. … Bringing that awareness to the situation, more eyes to what has happened, increases the chances he will be found.”