Eagle, Harpy

Harpy Eagle

Eagle, Harpy

Scientific Name: Harpia harpyja

Status: Near Threatened

Habitat: Tropical forests in Central America

Diet: These carnivores consume arboreal mammals and reptiles as well as other birds.

Length: 36–43 inches

Weight: 10–20 pounds

Wingspan: 7 feet

Harpy eagles mate for life and construct loose nests out of sticks high in the tree tops. The female lays two eggs and incubates them for 53–58 days. The first egg to hatch is nurtured while the second perishes. This enables the parents to invest all their resources in a single offspring. Even so, because each chick requires so much care, harpy eagles reproduce only every two to three years.

In addition to distinctive double crests that can be raised when the birds are excited, perhaps the most notable feature of harpy eagles is their five-inch claws. Male eagles are responsible for most hunting while the female incubates their eggs. He can pursue prey through the rainforest at speeds up to 50 miles per hour. When finally within striking distance, he descends upon his prey which he dispatches with the powerful grip of massive talons. However, harpy eagles cannot carry prey weighing more than half of their own body weight, so he will consume enough of the kill to make it light enough to bring to his mate and chick.

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