The mighty harpy eagle is one of the largest eagles in the world, with talons (claws) bigger than a grizzly bear’s!
These birds of prey are some of the most impressive airborne predators in the world. The harpy eagle has a fearsome, well-earned reputation.
Native to the rainforests of Central and South America, these elusive birds are a rare sight to behold in the wild.
|Location||Central and South America|
|Fun Fact||One of the largest eagle species|
|Other Names||American harpy eagle|
|Color||Black, Grey, White|
|Life Span||25 to 35 years|
|Conservation Status||Near Threatened|
Aesthetically, the harpy eagle’s figure is striking, to say the least, with its huge talons, a regal crown of feathers, and a long elegant tail.
This mighty bird, most powerful raptor found in its range, and its only real predators are others of its kind
Enjoy the Harpy eagle facts below:
1. Their Talons are huge, even bigger than a grizzy bears claw
Harpy eagles have the biggest talons out of every eagle in the world and stretch up to 5 inches long. Not only are they extremely long, but they are also extremely sharp. They have even been seen lifting prey equal to their body weight. These birds are able to do this as they can exert enormous pressure using their talons, equivalent to hundreds of pounds at a time. This explains how the harpy eagle can kill and eat such large predators relative to their size.
2. Harpy eagles choose one partner and mate for life
Harpy eagles are monogamous creatures, which is pretty rare among birds. This means they find one partner and mate with only them for the rest of their lives. Because of this, you will often find these mighty eagles roaming around in pairs. They will also usually occupy a specific area together, 11,000 acres on average. This eagle performs highly intimate displays of affection, too, such as rubbing their bills together and chirping at each other. These acts of love are thought to promote a more robust and deeper bond between the eagle couple.
3. They are enormous and weigh up to 20 pounds
Harpy eagles are known for their large size and are the heaviest of the raptors, weighing in up to 20 pounds. They also stretch up to 40 inches long and have an outstanding wingspan of around six feet. Believe it or not, this wingspan is relatively small compared to other eagles, it is thought this helps them hunt in a forest habitat. They are often cited as the largest eagle in the world along with the Philippine eagle and Steller’s sea eagle.
4. Harpy eagles are apex predators
Fully grown adult harpy eagles are at the top of their food chain and have very few real threats in the wild. On the other hand, young chicks are preyed on by a range of other animals. It is therefore vital for the adult to be vigilant of predators at all times to protect the life of its youngsters. This is one of the main reasons why they choose to build their nests so high up in the trees. To prevent land predators from reaching their beloved eagle children.
Since the harpy eagles are at the top of their food chain, they play a vital role in maintaining their home ecosystem. Known as an umbrella species, which means that conserving this bird and its habitat will automatically help in saving many other animal and plant species too.
5. They have a very diverse diet
As mentioned, harpy eagles are huge and are at the top of the food chain in their habitat. It should therefore, come as no surprise that it will often hunt moderate-sized animals such as monkeys, sloths, and some deer. Use its incredible eyesight and exceptional flight ability to pick off tree-dwelling animals. These eagles will then use their huge, powerful talons to perform a death grip on their prey before carrying them back to their nest to feed their young. Their strong talons can pick prey up from the ground weighing up to 17 pounds in a single dive motion.
6. Harpy eagles implement hunting methods unique to the bird world
Harpy eagles primary method of hunting is jumping from branch to branch, on the lookout for any prey using their sharp eyesight. Once spotted, they will dive off their perch and seize their prey. Sometimes, these birds will be less motivated to hunt and hunt passively by perching and waiting for their prey to come to them. Another less common method of hunting for the harpy eagle is flying above the trees while keeping an eye out for prey below. This means they will sacrifice the quantity of prey for more flight space.
7. Theyare the national bird of Panama – And this is the best place for Harpy eagle conservation
The harpy eagle has strong cultural roots among some Latin American countries and has even been chosen as the Panamanian national bird. The majestic bird of prey is also depicted on Panama’s coat of arms.
8. They have an amazing eyesight
Harpy eagles have an incredible eyesight to help them search for prey movement. The eagle can see prey only an inch large, from up to 650 ft away! Their sharp eyesight, coupled with their fantastic flight ability, makes them highly skilled hunters. This regal bird doesn’t have the best sense of smell, but they have amazing hearing to make up for it and help them hunt.
9. They can raise their crown when threatened
Harpy eagles have been observed manually raising their rich crown of irregular feathers whenever they feel threatened. Some scientists also believed that the large bird uses the feathers of the crown to help direct sound to its ears.
10. How were harpy eagles named? After the ‘harpies’ in Greek mythology
The harpy eagle name was thought to have been coined by South American explorers and refers to the ‘harpies’ in Greek mythology. The ‘harpies’ were half-human, half-bird creatures who personified storm winds.