The Amazon is full of amazing birds, plants, and animals. But the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) definitely stands out as the biggest and strongest of the rainforest’s raptors!
They are such beautiful birds, and their power is clear to see. If you see one on your trip to Ecuador, you won’t soon forget it. Read our post to learn more about these fantastic birds of prey!
- Giant birds!
Harpy eagles are huge! As mentioned earlier, they are the biggest raptors in the rainforest. They show s.ᴇ xual dimorphism, which means a difference in size between males and females.
Females weigh up to 20 lbs, and males weigh up to 10 lbs. They are 3.6 ft long and have a wingspan of 7.4 ft! Their huge talons are 5 inches long, bigger than grizzly bear claws.
The harpy eagle is found in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America (including Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela), as far south as Argentina. They’re most concentrated in Brazil, and very limited in Mexico and Central America, unfortunately.
Harpies are clᴀssed as “near ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛᴇɴᴇᴅ,” due mostly to habitat ʟᴏss and ᴅᴇfᴏʀᴇsᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ. You can see them in Ecuador’s Amazon (such as Yasuni National Park), if you have a keen eye.
- Long lifespans
Harpy eagles are known to live for up to 35 years in the wild.
- Beautiful feathers
Young harpies are white and very light gray, they won’t obtain their adult colors until age 3.
Adults have an ashy-grey head with a dark black, hooked beak and yellow irises. They have charcoal colored wings, tail, and collar area. They have a light grey/white ʙʀᴇᴀsᴛ and underparts with some darker grey stripes. They’re feet are a light yellow color with dark grey talons.
- Fully carnivorous
Harpy eagles eat pretty much any Amazon animal it can carry off, including monkeys, armadillos, agoutis, and sloths.
Once they’ve caught their prey they normally carry it to the treetops to eat it. If they’ve caught something a little too big though, they’ll eat it on a fallen tree trunk or somewhere similar.
They will even store their prey in the trees and eat it for a few days in a row.
- They are monogamous
That’s right, harpy eagles are known to ᴍᴀᴛᴇ for life. Isn’t that sweet?
- Both mom and dad care for their chicks
Harpy eagles normally lay 2 white eggs in a 5 ft nest, with one chick surviving to adulthood. The eggs take around 50 days to hatch and they fledge at 4 to 6 months.
The female will incubate the eggs and then look after the chick while the male keeps them fed every 2 or 3 days.
The young harpy eagles stay with mom and dad for around 2 years learning how to do all things. Because the parents are charged with caring for the young for those 2 years, they only ᴍᴀᴛᴇ at the turn of 2 or 3 years. This ᴍᴀᴛɪɴɢ season normally falls between April-November but can happen anytime.
- Fast flyers
If they need to, harpies can fly at sᴘᴇᴇds of 50 miles per hour when chasing prey. I certainly wouldn’t want to see this beautiful beast sᴘᴇᴇding at me with outstretched and flexing talons! Fortunately, harpies don’t carry off tourists.