Which is the largest eagle in the Americas? What about the most powerful predatory bird in the world? If you said harpy eagle, congrats, you'll love this piece even more.
The harpy eagle is a legend, and few humans have seen this bird in their lives.
This bird is as intimidating as it is beautiful.
It's pretty huge as well, with claws that measure 5 inches long. As for the wingspan, get this, it can reach up to six and a half feet. You probably haven't seen anyone that tall today.
This beautiful arboreal giant turns monkeys and sloths into snacks with little effort.
As for the name harpies, it has a mythological origin. The bird was given the name after a creature in Greek mythology described as a "frightful, flying creature with hooked beak and claws."
What else do we know about this fascinating bird of prey?
1. Young harpy eagles have a different look. While adults have a darker color, young eagles under 4 years of age have a whitish to gray appearance all over their bodies.
2. Their diet consists entirely of meat from sloths, eagles, deer, armadillos, and even foxes.
3. When necessary, these birds will also eat reptiles such as snakes and iguanas and birds such as macaws.
4. They make a penetrative scream consisting of a wheeoooo or just a plain wheeeee cry.
5. Female harpy eagles are larger than their male counterparts.
6. They hunt by first perching to watch their prey before swooping in on them and snatching them up with their strong sharp claws.
7. Females lay dull white eggs that they incubate for 56 days before one or two chicks hatch.
8. Both female and male harpy eagles make a nest on tall trees. These nests measure 4.9 feet by 3.9 feet.
9. Once the chicks arrive, the male makes sure they are fed, as well as the mother. The male brings food every two to three days.
10. The chicks fledge after about 4.5 months to 6 months, but they depend on the parents for up to 12 months before they can hunt on their own. The chicks stay close to the parents until they are 2 years old.
11. Young harpy eagles can rely on their parents for up to 2 years, and adults mate once every 2 to 3 years.
12. Despite their size, they just glide through the forest canopy. Don't expect to catch them flying in open air.
13. The eagles live in subtropical and tropical evergreen forests although they can live in mountains with elevations of 2,000 meters.
14. In the wild, they can live for up to 35 years. They can live longer in captivity.
15. They hunt during the day and go back to their nests at night.
16. A breeding pair can command an area of up to 11,000 acres.
17. They keep one mating partner for all their lives. They also often fly in pairs.
18. The giant birds are going extinct in Central America.
19. They are found in Mexico, Central America and South America.
20. Their numbers have dropped considerably because of deforestation. Today, they have a Near Threatened status.
Harpies eagles are mysterious and unreal given their massive size, unique appearance, and unusual habits. Just by looking at their imposing looks and their keen penetrating eyes, you will be convinced you are face to face with a creature straight out of some ancient mythical fantasy.