The Magnificent Harpy Eagle

The Harpy eagle is considered the most powerful eagle on our planet. It possesses such force (530 pounds per square inch) that it could crush the skull of a human (like a grape)!

Want to learn more about this magnificent creature? 

Read on…

Fast Facts

  • Weight: Up to 20 pounds
  • Height: Up to 3.5 feet
  • Where it Lives: Mexico, Central, and South America
  • Diet: Monkeys, birds, squirrels, reptiles etc. 
  • Lifespan: 35 to 45 years

Harpy Eagle Appearance 

The Harpy can weigh up to 20 pounds and stand up to 3.5 feet tall. In addition to its large body and broad wingspan (up to 7.5 feet), it has massive talons, and legs that can be as thick as a human’s wrist.

The head of this eagle is grey and crowned with a double crest of feathers. When the bird feels threatened it will fluff these out, so it appears larger. 

Like an owl, the harpy has facial disk feathers. These help direct sound waves to the harpy’s ears (just like cupping your hand around your ear).

It also has a long, curved, sharp beak it uses to shred its food. 

The color of this bird’s chest, back, and upper wings are charcoal, while the belly is white. It also has black and white striped legs and a black/white barred tail.

Harpy Eagle Diet 

The diet of harpy eagles consists mainly of tree-dwelling animals. These include monkeys, squirrel monkeys, pygmy marmosets, sloths, opossums, iguanas, and snakes. They will also eat large birds like curassows and macaws.

To ensure their young always have food, the females often take larger prey while males may take smaller animals more frequently. When hunting, they will take heavier prey to a nearby tree stump and eat some of it before carrying the rest to their nest.

Did you know harpy eagles don’t need to eat every day? In fact, they can go a week without food. 

Harpy Eagle Habitat 

The harpy eagles range from Mexico through Central America and all the way down to northern Argentina (South America).

This mighty bird prefers to hang out in the canopy treetops of lowland tropical rainforests. The species requires big trees and wide territories for its numbers to flourish.

Harpy eagles build large nests high up in the treetops. They use hundreds of twigs and branches (as well as animal fur and plants) to construct nests that can reach up to 4 feet in diameter. 

Fun Fact: Harpy eagles often use the same nest over and over again. 

Harpy Eagle Strength

The harpy eagle is considered the strongest eagle of them all. It uses its 5-inch long talons to grab and crush its prey. It can actually exert 530 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure. 

Did you know this type of force could easily crush a human skull like a grape?

Unlike other raptors that soar high above the ground searching for prey, the harpy eagle flies below the forest canopy. When it spots its prey, it quickly snatches it up. This strong bird can lift animals upwards of 15 pounds.

This eagle is also capable of reaching flight speeds of 50 miles per hour. Even though it has a wingspan of 7.5 feet wide, the wings are short and broad. This allows it to fly straight up with the prey in its sharp talons.

Fun Fact: The harpy eagle will sit silently for up to 23 hours waiting for unsuspecting prey to walk by.

These birds also have excellent vision, so they can spot prey nearly 220 yards away.

More Fun Harpy Facts

Did you know?

  • It mates for life
  • Females only produce eggs every few years
  • She will lay one or two eggs
  • The female can start laying eggs at 4 or 5 years old
  • Baby eagles stay with their parents for 10 months
  • Harpy eagles usually only vocalize when they are approaching their nest. This lets their babies know it’s their parents and not a predator
  • There are fewer than 50,000 left in the wild

What do you think about the harpy eagle? Tell us in the comment section!

Categories: Beaks & Bills

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