American Harpy Eagle

• ORDER • • FAMILY • • GENUS & SPECIES •

Falconiformes Accipitridae Harpia harpyja

• ORDER • • FAMILY • • GENUS & SPECIES •

Falconiformes Accipitridae Harpia harpyja

American Harpy Eagle

f KEY FEATURES

i • The heaviest bird of ; prey,with the largest feet [■ and talons of any eagle

I • Strong enough to snatch adult monkeys . and sloths from the treetops in midflight pairs mate for life

and raise a single chick once every three years its blend of brute [ force and ultra-sharp ; reflexes makes it one of the top rainforest predators

r WHERE IN THE WORLD?

Thinly distributed from the southern tip of costa Rica through

■ the Amazon Basin to northern Argentina; has vanished from many former haunts

and is now classed as

A High born

The harpy eagle lives and breeds in lofty branches.

A High born

The harpy eagle lives and breeds in lofty branches.

Casting a sinister shadow over the rainforests of tropical America, the American harpy eagle terrorizes hapless animals that forage in the shifting sunlight of the high canopy.

habitat -

The American harpy eagle is found in the extensive tropical rainforests of South and Central America. The eagle spends most of its time high in the canopy and nests only in the tallest trees, such as the giant kapok or silk-cotton trees.

Like most other powerful predators, the American harpy eagle is naturally rare, as each pair hunts over a territory of up to 20 sq. miles. But new research suggests that the species occupies smaller territories in Panama and Venezuela and can survive in patches of forest bordering savannah, agricultural land and human settlements.

behavior

The harpy eagle leads a solitary existence. Even when breeding, the male and female hunt and roost separately, with the female staying on the nest at night to brood the eggs or chick while her mate rests in a tree nearby Encounters with other eagles are rare, but the female's larger size enables her to defend her nest from other males should the need arise.

For such a large bird, the harpy eagle usually goes unnoticed as it perches statuestill and silent, alert for signs of either prey or intruders. While it is perched, the eagle's dark upperparts are hard to spot in the dappled light of the forest.The harpy eagle usually only reveals itself by spreading its wings to reveal the pale breast feathers.

# This eagle can take 3 days to digest a meal, and may kill only twice a week.

# A young harpy eagle may return to breed in the tree where it was born, as long as the tree is unclaimed by its parents or other eagles.

The heaviest bird of prey on record is a female harpy eagle that weighed 27 lbs.

The harpy eagle is named after the harpies — monstrous half-woman, half-bird predators of classical Greek mythology.

Hunting With Harpy EaglesHarpy Eagle Flight

A Lone ranger

Ever alert, the harpy eagle watches over its home range from a lofty vantage point and patrols it from the air.

A Lone ranger

Ever alert, the harpy eagle watches over its home range from a lofty vantage point and patrols it from the air.

food & hunting

The American harpy eagle is one of the most aerobatic of all eagles. Spotting its prey from a lookout, it launches out and swoops in at speeds of up to 48 mph. Broad, slotted wings allow it to twist and turn through narrow gaps in the canopy The eagle may even roll upside down at the last moment before reaching up with its talons, and ripping its victim away with barely a check in its flight speed.

The harpy eagle hunts monkeys, sloths and tree-living porcupines and anteaters. It also preys on lizards, snakes, macaws and other large birds, and sometimes hunts pigs and rodents on the ground.

THE MONKEY SNATCHER

Q Scan.

Perched on a dead tree rising over the forest canopy, a harpy eagle scans all around for potential prey.

Q Scan.

Perched on a dead tree rising over the forest canopy, a harpy eagle scans all around for potential prey.

CONSERVATION

Most conservation bodies, including the IUCN (World Conservation Union), class the harpy eagle as regionally endangered.Huge swaths of rainforest have been felled in much of its range.As this bird nests only in tall trees, the growth found in some partially cleared areas cannot substitute for mature forest. However, new studies suggest that pairs can make do with compact hunting grounds fairly close to cultivated land, provided they can survive the farmers' guns.

Q Swoop.

The eagle spots a troop of woolly monkeys raiding a fruiting tree. It takes off to mount a surprise attack.

Q Swoop.

The eagle spots a troop of woolly monkeys raiding a fruiting tree. It takes off to mount a surprise attack.

American Harpy Eagle

Q Strike.

Without warning, the eagle smashes through the tree's outer foliage and sinks its talons into a monkey's back.

Q Success!

The spine-snapping impact kills the monkey, and the eagle carries off its prize to eat at leisure.

Q Strike.

Without warning, the eagle smashes through the tree's outer foliage and sinks its talons into a monkey's back.

Q Success!

The spine-snapping impact kills the monkey, and the eagle carries off its prize to eat at leisure.

breeding-

Little is known about the breeding habits of the harpy eagle, as its nests are so inaccessible. It is thought they form stable pairs that stay together for the breeding season and possibly for life. Each pair builds a nest of large sticks, lined with leaves and animal hairs, in the crown of a tree 130-160' above the ground.They appear to use the same site regularly, refurbishing the old nest and gradually building it up until it is over 6.5' across.

The female harpy eagle lays two eggs, several days apart. Like most eagles, the second egg serves as an "insurance policy"The elder; and therefore stronger; chick grabs nearly all the food brought to the nest, so the weaker chick soon starves. Only if the first chick dies does the younger one survive.The juvenile depends on its parents for a further 10 months, demanding food from them even when it is able to fly.

^ Grounded for now

After 2 months, the chick is the size of a turkey but still has a covering of down.

^ Grounded for now

After 2 months, the chick is the size of a turkey but still has a covering of down.

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