Harpy eagle (Harpia Harpyja) is one of the world’s largest species of eagles that is alive today. In America, it is the most powerful bird of prey. The crested eagle and New Guinea eagle are its closest cousins. From its genus Harpia, it is the single member.
The upper plumage is slate-black while it is white from beneath. Its legs are covered with white feathers with black streaks. It has a thick black band between its gray head and white lower plumage. It has yellow toes and red or brown eyes.
It can grow up to 86 to 107 centimeters in length and wingspan can be as long as 224 centimeters long. A female eagle weighs up to 20 pounds while the male can only weigh up to 10 pounds.
A harpy eagle reaches maturity between 4 and 6 years.
A female harpy lays 2 eggs. The size of its nest averages 4.9 feet across and 3.9 feet in depth and it is built on trees that may be as high as 140 feet. It nests on trees like kapok and Brazil nut trees. The parents normally look after one chick for 2 to 3 years and the other egg may never hatch. The egg is hatched after 56 days. The pair nourishes its chick for 6 to 10 months but it can fledge after 6 months.
Harpies are distributed across Central and South America, including Brazil and Argentina. However, in Central America, harpy eagle is virtually extinct.
Harpies occupy habitats of tropical rainforests and are present at an average altitude of 3,000 feet. They are also observed to fly around pasturelands, Caatinga desert vegetation and cerrado tropical region.
Harpies are carnivores. The primary diet consists of mammals that live on trees like monkeys and sloths. In monkeys, it preys mostly on spider, howler, capuchin and squirrel monkeys. Other mammals include anteaters, opossums and porcupines. Harpies also attack green-winged macaws. In reptiles, it preys upon iguana and snakes. The skunk pigs and capybaras also form occasional diet of these eagles.
The main predators of harpies are jaguars and ocelots.
Other Name: American harpy eagle