Anyone who has ever seen a harpy eagle will immediately be taken back by the creature’s beauty. These gorgeous birds are known for their size and curious name. Interestingly, harpy eagles are named after the mythical monsters for a really great reason: they are somehow mythical creatures themselves.
Harpy eagles were first described by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae in 1758 as Vultur harpyja. The species name harpyja comes from Ancient Greek harpyia in reference to the Harpies of Ancient Greek mythology. Harpies are wind spirits that took the dead to Hades and were said to have a body like an eagle and the face of a human. It’s a fitting name for the harpy eagle indeed.
A large predator.
The harpy eagle is most common in the Brazilian rainforests although some have been found in Mexico, Central America, and South America. It is the largest and most powerful raptor found in the rainforest although it is slightly smaller than the Philippine eagle.
Consider this: just their rear talons are about 3-4 inches long – and that’s the same size as a grizzly bear’s claws!
Harpies are so powerful, they snatch up monkeys and sloths.
Interestingly, juveniles look different from adults. Young eagles have a white to gray color throughout the body. The upper parts of the body are usually brownish-gray in color while the crest is whitish. However, they start to look like their parents when they reach four years of age.
They grow into their good looks.
The juvenile eagles usually fledge six months after hatching but still stay close to their mother. They are dependent on their parents for up to two years.
The harpy eagle is a true carnivore.
Its diet consists of sloths and monkeys but they also hunt other animals like peccaries, deer, armadillos, foxes, and agoutis.
Harpy eagles have a unique hunting style.
They need your help.
Although they are not endangered, the number of harpy eagles in the wild is decreasing due to deforestation. For now, they are listed as a Near Threatened species.
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