Harpy Eagle Facts
- Perhaps most notably, the magnificent Harpy Eagle ranks as the largest and most powerful of all known types of eagles living in a rainforest. Furthermore, this truly stunning variety of raptor also ranks as one of the largest species of eagle found anywhere on earth.
- Some confusion does surround the animal, however, in regards to its common name. That’s because some individuals refer to it as the American harpy eagle. This occurs due to the desire to avoid confusing it with another species of eagle inhabiting portions of the same habitat range.
- Quite unfortunately, the IUCN now lists this incredible bird as Near Threatened. This lamentable fact occurs due to a combination of factors. Chief among these remains the ongoing severe destruction of much of its natural habitat. In fact, in parts of the range it previously inhabited, the gorgeous animal has now disappeared entirely.
- In addition to this, the creature also faces other threats to its continued existence. Even in the regions it still appears in, its numbers appear to be significantly reduced. Finally, it also faces the same dire threat as many other species around the world today. This consists of the ongoing threat of climate change, which looms over countless species.
Harpy Eagle Physical Description
The truly stunning Harpy Eagle possesses a rather striking physical appearance, which sets it apart from related species. This statement holds true for several reasons. Its sheer physical size only represents one of these factors, however. But, as with many species, this bird displays the trait of sexual dimorphism. In its case, the female reaches significantly greater size than her male counterpart. Both genders have the largest talons of any type of eagle.
Firstly, the female of the species typically attains a maximum body length measuring about 3.5 ft (1.07 m). Meanwhile, the smaller male rarely exceeds a body length of 2 ft 10 in (86.5 cm). Secondly, the females attains a weight of as much as 18. 3 lb (8.3 kg). Yet the males only reach a maximum weight of 13.1 lb (5.95 kg), and average much less.
However, both genders display the same physical appearance. The upper portions of the body present dark black feathers. Yet, the underside remains primarily white in color. The exception to this is the presence of thin black stripes on each of its legs. But, the majestic head displays a pale gray color, with a double crest. Finally, the upper side of the tail shows a black color, with three gray stripes.
- Kingdom: Animala
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Accipitriformes
- Family: Accipitridae
- Genus: Harpia
- Species: H. harpyja
Harpy Eagle Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Technically, the native habitat range of the magnificent Harpy Eagle extends from Mexico, in North America, to Argentina, in South America. However, in the country of Mexico, the fabulous creature appears to be nearly extinct. But very sadly, throughout the entirety of its range, this marvelous bird continues to have a thinly scattered population.
In addition, the animal primarily inhabits regions of tropical lowland rainforests. The majority of its numbers appear in this habitat in the country of Brazil. Furthermore, most individuals live in areas with an elevation lower than 3,000 ft (900 m). Yet, scattered individuals do appear at altitudes of as much as 6,600 ft (2,000 m), in areas of similar vegetation.
The powerful Harpy Eagle remains one of the top predators in every area it lives in. Its prey mainly consists of various tree-dwelling mammals. Yet, it also occasionally hunts such animals as squirrels, porcupines, and opossums, to name a few. More precisely, however, sloths and monkeys comprise the majority of its food supply. Meanwhile, it has very few natural predators, itself.
Although researchers remain uncertain, it appears that the animal mates for life. After mating, the female typically lays 2 large eggs. The large nest may be as large as 3.9 ft (1.2 m) deep and 4.9 ft (1.5 m) across. Placed high in trees, each nest may be used for several years. But, the female usually only lays eggs every 2-3 years. Quite unusually, after one egg hatches, both parents ignore any other egg. Due to this, any other eggs normally fail to hatch. The majority of eggs hatch after about 56 days of incubation.