- Harpy Eagles are among the world’s largest and most powerful eagles.
- Their rear talons are about 3-4 inches long, the same size as a grizzly bear’s claws.
- Harpy Eagles continue to bring fresh green twigs and branches to the nest after the chick has hatched.
- This helps to keep insects and parasites away and provides a cooler environment for nesting.
- A female can weigh up to two times more than a male eagle.
- Deforestation and shooting are the two main threats to the survival of Harpy Eagles.
- Harpy Eagle is legendary although few people have seen it.
- These great birds are named after harpies, the predatory frightful flying creatures with hooked beaks and claws.
- This dark gray bird of prey has a very distinctive look, with feathers the bold crest.
- The harpy eagle’s legs can be as thick as a small child’s wrist, its curved back talons are larger than grizzly bear claws at 5 inches long.
- The harpy eagle may not be the largest but this extraordinary creature is definitely the heaviest and powerful bird.
- Harpy eagles can eat mammals and reptiles.
- Harpy eagles tend to eat bigger species of monkeys.
- A harpy eagle has the largest talons of any eagle species.
- Female harpy eagles are the ones who take on heavier prey.
- Harpy eagles tend to focus on one chick at a time.
HABITAT AND DIET-
- Despite their wingspan which can reach up to 6.5 feet across, harpies fly through their forest home with great agility.
- For nesting, harpies favor silk cotton trees and usually build nests 90 to 140 feet above the ground.
- They like to use trees with widely spaced branches for a clear flight path to and from the nest.
- Harpies use large sticks to create the nest’s huge frame and line it with softer greens, seedpods, and animal fur to make it comfortable.
- A harpy nest measures about 4 feet thick and 5 feet across, large enough for a person to lie across.
- Once built, an eagle pair may reuse and remodel the same nest for many years.
- The strong, silent type, harpy eagles do not vocalize much, when heard they wail, croak, whistle, click, and mew.
- Harpies are great at saving precious energy, they always fly below the forest canopy and use their great talons to snatch its outstretched feet.
- A harpy is capable of the serious chase of reaching speeds of 50 miles per hour.
- It dives down onto its prey and snatches it with outstretched feet.
- Its short broad wings help the eagle fly almost straight up it can attack prey from below as well as above.
- The harpy eagle can turn its head upside down to get a better look at its potential meal.
- The bird perches silently for hours up to 23 in a tree to catch the suspecting prey.
- It has excellent vision and can see something less than 1inch in size from almost 220 yards away.
- The deadly talons of a harpy eagle can exert several pounds of pressure, crushing the bones of its prey and instantly killing its victim.
- A harpy also feeds on young deer, snakes, etc.
- The larger females tend to take sloths and monkeys, the smaller more agile faster males tend to take more quantities of smaller food items.
- The mother lays one or two eggs in a clutch and produces them every two to three years.
- Both parents incubate eggs with the female taking most of the responsibility.
- The first egg to hatch gets all the attention and is more likely to survive, while other egg dies from lack of incubation.
- The second acts as an insurance policy in case there is something wrong with the first egg.
- The newly hatched chick is all white and doesn’t attain its full adult coloring until it is in the third year.
- Both parents feed the chick for about 10 months.
- Harpy eagle chicks are ready to fledge at about 5 to 6 months of age but usually hang around the nest for over a year, begging a meal from their parents.
- Harpies can breed from 5 to 30 years of age and beyond.
- Each harpy eagle pair needs several square miles of undisturbed forest to thrive.
- These eagles are non-migratory, they hunt their established range continuously.
- Years of logging, destruction of nesting sites, and poaching have eliminated this bird from much of its former range, especially the northern part.