Harpy eagle Introduction
Harpy eagles are the largest species of eagle in the world. With a massive wingspan, a sharp hooked beak, and intimidatingly long talons, these almost mythic birds are at the top of the food chain in their native habitat. Harpy eagles live primarily in the jungles of South America, although there are small populations in Central America and even as far north as Mexico. They are at home in the emergent layer of the rainforest, where they perch on tall trees and hunt for prey. Harpy eagles feed on an interesting diet that is well-suited for their remarkable size. Sloths and monkeys are the main sources of food for these eagles. They have also been known to feed on a variety of other arboreal mammals including kinkajous, tayras, squirrels, and opossums—or even ground-dwelling animals such as porcupines, armadillos and anteaters. Harpy eagles have even been observed feeding on small deer. They really are the top of the food chain. Harpy eagles subdue their prey with their long talons and powerful legs. Their strong wings and wide wingspan allow them to carry prey through the jungle in order to return to a perch and feed. This strategy of careful hunting and retrieval is well suited to their rainforest environment. Harpy eagles are devoted and protective. They form monogamous breeding pairs that last for life and build nests together. These nests are almost as impressive as the harpy eagles themselves—made up of carefully woven sticks lined with greenery and animal fur and reused by the same breeding pair every year. The female lays two eggs, but she rarely raises more than one chick per breeding cycle. The pair take turns incubating the egg and raise the chick together, hunting as a group of three after the fledging of the juvenile eagle. Classified as near threatened, Harpy eagle populations have dwindled steadily in the past few decades. This is primarily due to habitat loss, as the rainforests of South and Central America are being depleted, but Harpy eagles are also hunted by humans out of a fear that they are a threat to people or to livestock.
Keywords to learn
Wingspan: Measurement of the maximum extent of a bird’s wings from tip to tip
Incubation: The act of warming eggs in order to hatch them
Hey Kids, my name is Hadar the Harpy eagle and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @
- Order: Accipitriformes.
- Lifespan: 25 to 35 years.
- Class: Aves.
- Scientific Name: Harpia harpyja.
- Mass: 5kg – 9kg (11lb – 10lb).
- Length: 89cm – 109cm (35in – 43in).
- Region found: South America.
- Population Status: Near Threatened.
- Current population trend: Decreasing.
- Diet: Carnivorous.
- Sexual maturity: 5 – 6 years.
As you have just learned, the Harpy eagle is an incredibly and intimidating creature with many wonderful characteristics and a great deal of interesting behaviors. Known for its remarkable size and its hunting capability, the Harpy eagle is threatened by human encroachment on its habitat.
Now that you know more about the Harpy eagle by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
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Harpy eagle Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. Harpy eagles talons can grow up to five inches long.
- # 2. Their nests are known for being incredibly difficult to find.
- # 3. Female Harpy eagles can weigh up to twice as much as their male counterparts.
- # 4. Harpy eagles can perch for up to 23 hours while hunting for prey.
- # 5. The name of the Harpy eagle comes from the harpies of Greek and Roman mythology.
# 1. Name three animals that the Harpy eagle preys upon?
# 2. What is the average lifespan of a Harpy eagle?
# 3. Where do Harpy eagles get their name?
# 4. What is one threat to Harpy eagle populations?
# 5. What rainforest layer do Harpy eagles live in?