Harpy Eagle

Category: Birds

Named after the harpies of Greek Mythology, harpy eagles are the largest bird of prey found in the Americas, and can grow to have a wingspan of over 7 feet long. Their habitat ranges from throughout central America all the way through Argentina and Brazil.

Harpy Eagle

Harpy Eagle

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Aves

Order - Accipitriformes

Family - Accipitridae

Genus – Harpia

Species – H. harpyja

Common Names – Harpy Eagle, American Harpy Eagle

Characteristics

Although harpy eagles are apex avian predators in their natural habitats, they are still occasionally preyed upon by tree-dwelling cats, including ocelots and jaguars.

Breeding

Harpy eagles build large nests in trees, and may use them repeatedly over many years. The female lays two eggs every couple of years, but typically only one chick is raised. When one egg hatches, the other is usually neglected.

Behavior

One of the largest eagles in the world, the harpy eagle is an apex predator that preys upon mammals including sloths, monkeys, or even deer. Though it is an apex predator, it is sometimes eaten by big cats (such as jaguars) in its Central and South American habitat.

History

Though it was historically found as far north as Mexico, this majestic creature is all but extinct in Central America due to deforestation. It is most common in Brazil, but can be found in the northern edge of Argentina.

Present Status

Despite being found in an extremely large range of habitats, the harpy eagle’s population has declined considerably in the past few decades. Due to human activities like logging, prospecting, and agricultural expansion, the harpy eagle is suffering from a loss of its natural habitat. Although exact numbers are not known, the harpy eagle is thought to be quickly approaching the “threatened” classification on the animal conservation status spectrum.