The harpy eagle is considered one of the most powerful eagles of the over 100 different species of these birds of prey.
They have been found living in the jungles of Mexico all the way down to Northern Argentina. They need the space of larger trees in the canopy of lowland tropical rainforests. It is here where the harpy eagle makes its nest.
They use the tallest trees in the jungle to construct their home. This nest, which may be constructed from sticks, branches, plants and animal fur will be used multiple times and will continually be added to, creating an enormous dwelling that can fit a human.
With 5 inch talons (a grizzly bear’s claws are 3 inches) and the ability to exert 110 pounds of bone-crushing pressure with their legs and talons, the harpy eagle is among the top predators in its habitat. They hunt tree-dwelling mammals (sloths, monkeys, squirrels), birds, iguanas and snakes.
The female harpy can weigh up to 20 pounds, which is twice the size of the male. She can snatch a 17-pound monkey and fly away with no noticeable change in her flight. Males hunt smaller prey more frequently.
To hunt, the harpy will sit and wait patiently, sometimes for hours, on a perch. They have the ability to see 220 yards away and when they go for the attack, they can chase their meal with speeds up to 50 miles an hour!
The male and female harpy eagle mate for life. The female lays eggs about every two to three years. Even though the young harpy fledges around six months, they hang around for two more years to learn how to be one of the top predators in the jungle.
While the harpy eagle is not endangered, their numbers are being reduced due to human activity such as poaching and deforestation. (Edit note: the featured photo for this article was actually a rehabilitated harpy who was shot and is unable to be rereleased, unfortunately.
Find out more at http://www.pawspartners.org/blog/the-amazing-harpy-eagle