You’d be excused if your first impression of a Harpy Eagle was disbelief. Apart from its impressive size, the Harpy looks downright regal with its crown of raised grey feathers, beautiful eyes, expressive face and feather collar of black and grey. The Harpy Eagle can reach up to 3 feet in height with a wingspan of up to 7 feet.
A female Bald Eagle, in comparison weighs up to 12 pound and the female Harpy Eagle between 13 and 20 pounds. Female eagles are heavier than their male counterparts. A male Harpy would weigh in at between 9 to 13 pounds, almost half the weight of the female at her heaviest.
The Harpy Eagle’s natural habitat is the upper canopy of tropical lowland forests, stretching from Mexico to Brazil and northern Argentina. There wingspan is shorter than other eagle species which allows them to navigate through the forests.
Apart from size, the males and females are identical in appearance In terms of appearance, from its raised feather crown to its large, powerful talons. Just the rear talons of the Harpy is bigger than the claws of a Grizzly Bear which measures 5 inches in length.
The Harpy is at the top of the food chain in the forest thanks to their immensely powerful talons. Sloths and monkeys are a favorite meal as they have enough strength to catch and carry small animals weighing as much as 17 pounds. The don’t soar for long distances as other eagles do, thereby saving energy for their hunt, they’re also not very vocal and will sit on a lookout perch for hours waiting for unsuspecting prey to appear. Their speed of up to 50 miles per hour and their silence is more than enough for a successful catch.
Unfortunately, their habitat is shrinking fast due to deforestation and sighting Harpy Eagles are becoming increasingly rare across Latin America. Like many birds, Harpy Eagles are monogamous and raise just one eaglet every two years which means that even a small decline in numbers can negatively affect population recovery. In turn, their loss in some environments will negatively affect the ecosystem where the Harpy naturally keep the populations of animals like Capuchin monkeys in check. The monkeys steal eggs from birds nest to eat, which will ultimately continue the spiral of destruction, causing the extinction of other species.
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