10 Incredible Harpy Eagles Facts

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: June 30, 2022
Image Credit Chepe Nicoli/Shutterstock.com
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The harpy eagle is one of the world’s strongest and biggest birds of prey. The back talons are around four to five inches long, which is similar to the claws of a grizzly bear. The harpy eagle’s talons have enough force and grip to pull up prey about their weight.

Harpy eagles are apex predators in their food chain, feeding on opossums, monkeys, and sloths. Although their wings span about six and a half feet, they are still stealthy predators, gliding through forests and watching like a stealthy drone.

Nonetheless, harpies will not fly great distances to pursue prey. They would rather conserve energy and muscle for catching and lifting small animals weighing up to 17 pounds. They do not look forward to roaming and chasing prey; instead, they would sit and wait for their food to come along.

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Carefully read through this article to discover some fascinating facts about harpy eagles.

1. The term “harpy” is said to have originated by South American explorers

The term “harpy” in Greek mythology referred to some deity or creatures that were half-bird, half-human, and represented storm winds.

To begin with, when you hear the word “harpy,” you might think it refers to a joyful bird, as in “happy.” But then, the harpy is said to have originated by South American explorers, relating it to mythology in Greek. The term “harpy” in Greek mythology referred to some deity or creatures that were half-bird, half-human, and represented storm winds. Little wonder they look like humans in some sense.

2. Harpy eagles have big talons larger than a grizzly bear’s claws

These eagles possess the enormous talons of all eagles, measuring up to 5 inches long. They are not only extraordinarily long but also exceedingly pointy. These eagles have been spotted lifting prey the size of their bodies, which is quite incredible. These birds can do so because their talons can generate massive pressure. It shows more about how these birds can kill and eat huge carnivores that are about their size.

3. Harpy eagles are massive birds

This is no exaggeration. Harpy eagles are the heaviest and largest raptors, weighing up to 20 pounds. They may also grow to be 40 inches long, with a wingspan of about 6 feet. This eagle’s wingspan is relatively short compared to their eagle counterparts, which supposedly aids their hunting in the forests. They are frequently referred to as the world’s largest eagles, with another being called the Philippine eagle. See the differences between them.

4. Harpy eagles choose a life partner

Largest Birds of Prey - Harpy Eagle
Harpy eagles exhibit monogamy.

MarcusVDT/Shutterstock.com

Many speculations have gone viral on social media platforms about these birds looking like humans in the form of birds. This could be true as harpy eagles exhibit monogamy, which is quite unusual among birds. They search for one partner to mate with and live for their lifetime. As a result, you’d often see these majestic eagles flying in pairs, and they’d also usually cover a specified region together. This eagle also exhibits very close displays of affection, like chirping and rubbing beaks together. These expressions of love are supposed to strengthen and deepen the eagle couple’s relationship.

5. Harpy eagles have hunting techniques that are unique

Since most of their activities are done off-land, harpy eagles hunt mostly by leaping from one branch to another, scanning for prey with their keen vision. When their prey notices them, they will leap off their perch in an attempt to catch their victim. These birds may be less driven to forage for food than other animals. Instead, they prefer passive hunting (perching in wait for prey to approach them). Another way, though uncommon for many birds, is how harpy eagles hunt by flying high above the treetops while looking down for prey. As long as they’re up, no prey escapes their sight below because they have excellent vision.

6. The harpy eagle is Panama’s national bird

For a long time, these birds have gained a strong historical and cultural background in some Latin countries, leaving many individuals with no reason to hate them. The eagle represents the national bird of Panama. The harpy eagle is also on the county’s coat of arms. If you want to view one of these birds, you might want to tour Panama as they’re most likely to be seen there.

7. Harpy eagles are among the most powerful predators

Largest Eagles in the World: Harpy Eagle
Harpy eagles, at full maturity, top the food chain with few genuine wildlife challenges.

Harpy eagles are essential in preserving their natural habitat since they top the food chain. Harpy eagles, at full maturity, top the food chain with few genuine wildlife challenges. Their young ones, however, are preyed upon by different species. To preserve the lives of their offspring, the adults must be watchful against predators. They build nests far up the tallest trees to keep land predators away from their precious young ones.

8. Harpy eagles eat a wide variety of foods

Harpy eagles, as previously said, are enormous apex predators, topping the food chain. As a result, it shouldn’t be surprising that they frequently hunt medium-sized creatures such as sloths, monkeys, and occasionally deer. Harpy eagles detect animals that dwell in trees with their excellent vision and incredible flying abilities. Their powerful talons can grab prey that weighs up to 17 pounds off the ground in just one dive. They will carefully conduct a death hold on their victim with their massive, strong talons before taking them up to feed their babies.

9. The eyesight of harpy eagles is superb

deadliest bird on earth: harpy eagle
Harpy eagles have exceptional vision.

Alfredo Maiquez/Shutterstock.com

Harpy eagles have exceptional vision, which aids them in their search for prey from up to 650 feet away. These eagles can spot prey as small as an inch. Their keen vision, along with their incredible flying skills, makes them excellent hunters. These birds of prey may not have the strongest olfactory sense, but they have exceptional vision and hearing to compensate for and aid in their hunting.

10. If threatened, harpy eagles raise their crown

When they sense an attack or feel threatened, they’ve been seen to react by raising their beautiful crown of feathers. Besides raising their crowns when threatened, scientists believe the crowns’ feathers assist in directing sound to their ears.

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