Over the years, you may have come across this enormous bird that resembles a person on social media and questioned its veracity. That’s what we’re here to tell you.
For generations, humans have been captivated by the harpy eagle’s remarkable size and distinctive hunting methods.
This is the reason.
Just What Is a Name?
It’s not a word play on “happy,” but that’s how some people think the term “harpy” came from, referring to the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja).
The name was coined by explorers from South America and pays homage to the Greek goddesses Harpies, who had bird bodies and human heads.
The Harpy Eagle’s Residence
Native to South America, the harpy eagle is found in northeastern Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru. A few species of birds may also be found in Mexico and Central America, but in considerably lesser numbers.
In the United States, harpy breeding programmes are run by the Miami Zoo and the San Diego Zoo.
The Size of Harpy Eagles Is Massive
The most common raptor in the Amazon, harpy eagles are among the biggest eagles in the world.
With a maximum speed of fifty miles per hour, this hunting carnivore and apex predator has a wingspan of 5.75 to 7.3 feet. The harpy may reach a height of 40 inches. At 13 to 20 pounds, females weigh more than males, who weigh between 9 and 11 pounds.
Diet of the Harpy Eagle
In addition to eating sloths and monkeys, harpy eagles have also been seen to consume porcupines, squirrels, opossums, anteaters, armadillos, and kinkajous, among other tiny creatures.
Insatiably hungry harpy birds may also gorge on other birds, such parrots, or reptiles, including tegus, iguanas, and snakes.
How a Harpy Finds Prey
Perching high above the earth, harpy eagles hunt employing a tactic called “perch hunting.” This enables the eagle to search for nearby prey that is resting. The bird can identify prey that is resting hundreds of feet away because to its exceptional hearing and vision abilities.
They swiftly swoop down on an unwary animal and use their enormous talons to destroy it.
Ankles to Be Considered
A harpy’s claws are said to be as large as a bear’s. That isn’t a myth, however. Their talons may reach a maximum length of 5 inches, comparable to that of Kodiak or grizzly bears.
With adequate strength to grasp and hoist game up to their own weight, the bird’s powerful talons may kill anything weighing more than thirty pounds.
The Harpy Eagles As One Eternally
Harpies are monogamous and have a 45-year lifespan. A couple will be together for the rest of their life after they have bonded. When they are five years old, they become adults, thus they may live together for up to forty years.
The birds don’t migrate; instead, they mark their territory in a single location with towering trees that should provide them with food for many years to come.
Harpy Eagles and Parenthood
Every two to three years, the harpy will deposit one or two eggs at a time. Usually, only one of the two eggs hatches; scientists surmise that the second egg acts as a fallback in the event that the first one fails.
The average harpy mother incubates her eggs for 55 days. The harpy quits incubating the second egg once the first chick hatches, and it will not grow. The second egg, however, gives the harpy another shot at a fresh life in the event that the first egg fails to hatch.
A harpy parent puts a lot of effort into shielding their child. The first four months of a chick’s existence are spent in the nest by the harpy mother, while the harpy father wanders in search of food for his brood.
Humans and Harpies
Even while harpy eagles don’t usually attack people, you should still maintain a safe distance from them since they may be fatal.
Because it is so protective of its nest, a BBC cameraman was dive-bombed in 2010 when he was putting up a camera to photograph the bird. He and his microphone were thrown to the ground when the bird tore through his neck protection.
Constructing a Family House
Harpies construct enormous stick nests, the size of double beds, as they prepare to have babies. A single nest may have more than 300 branches. The height of this “bed” is around 150 feet!
Fresh green twigs are brought to the nest by harpies on a daily basis to prevent insects and parasites.
A Chatty Bird
The most of the time, harpy eagles are silent birds. They fit the description of the “strong, silent type.”
When they do speak, they employ a range of noises, including as a loud, high-pitched whistle that they use to communicate with their partner and young. They do not produce a very loud noise for a bird of their size.
They Are the National Bird of Panama
Indeed, the national bird of Panama is the harpy eagle. They are found in Darien National Park in the easternmost province of Darien, Panama, albeit their numbers here are fewer than in other countries.
The bird represents the might and might of Panama to its people.
We’re okay if they’re okay.
Because they don’t have any natural predators, harpies live at the top of the food chain in their rainforest home. If they are doing well, it means that the rainforest, their habitat, is prospering and they have access to enough food to thrive.
Scientists may infer that declining harpy populations indicate that either their food supplies are running out or their range is becoming narrower.
The Harpy Eagle Is a Threatened Species
The population of harpy eagles is estimated to be between 118,000 and 225,000 at present, and the species is considered near threatened.
The biggest danger to harpy eagles is deforestation, although they are often killed for their meat or because people think they pose a threat to cattle.