This bird is really impressive. It has a wingspan of 176 to 224 cm (5 ft 9 in - 7 ft 4 in) and females, who are typically bigger than the males, can weigh up to 9 kg (20 lb), rendering harpy eagles among the largest living eagles in the world. There are two known species of harpy eagles in the world: the American harpy eagle and the Papuan eagle.
The American harpy eagle resides in Central and South America, favoring rainforests, which explains why the bird is, unfortunately, virtually extinct in Central America as a result of mass logging activity. The Papuan variety is endemic to New Guinea, where it is the top predator living in mountain forests.
Globally, the eagles are considered near threatened, and restoring the population of these majestic creatures will prove to be difficult, as a harpy eagle couple, which mate for life, will only raise one chick every 2-3 years. Very rarely, two chicks are raised, and the average period these white fuzzy babies are bound to their parents is up to 1.5 years, though the chicks fledge at around 6 months.
These giant birds are obligate carnivores and they hunt on large prey, mostly mammals that dwell in the trees, such as monkeys, sloths, coatis, and squirrels, but it has been recorded to catch livestock, such as goats, chickens, and lambs, though this is very rare. But how could an animal that typically weighs like a pug possibly hunt for animals equal to its size?
What makes the harpy eagle the world’s most powerful eagle are its truly massive claws. In fact, the harpy eagle’s talons are the largest among all living eagles and even larger than that of a grizzly bear. This allows the predator to crush the bones of its prey in an instant with the pressure of 50 kg (110 lbs).
The birds look very stately and serious, but many people believe they also look quite funny. The amusing expression of this eagle’s face (image below), for example, has made its rounds on the Internet. Many people have even speculated that the enormous bird is not a real bird at all, but rather a person dressed in an eagle costume after seeing this picture.
Of course, this is not the case, and harpy eagles are very real animals, though they are becoming an increasingly rare sight due to habitat destruction. If anything, the Internet’s response is proof that the harpy seal deserves its mythical name, as it has been called so after the harpy, a monster from Greek and Roman mythology with the body of a bird of prey and the face of a human.
Watch the Impressive Harpy Eagle in Action in the Video Below