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A Talk on the Wild Side.

5 Fascinating Facts about the Harpy Eagle

Harpy EagleA Harpy Eagle. Credit: Jeff Cremer / PeruNature.com / cc license

logoThis week we are excited to feature a series of articles about some of the most important landscapes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps to protect in Central America, that are home to an incredibly biodiverse array of wildlife. As part of “Central America Week,” we invite you to learn more about our cornerstone strategy with Wildlife Conservation Society to protect Central America’s five largest remaining wild places. We will also be spotlighting some of the charismatic species that live in these critical habitats. All of our Central America Week stories can be found here.

Harpy eagles are one of the most impressive birds of prey in the world. They range from Mexico to northern Argentina. Here are 5 fascinating facts about this eagle species you probably didn’t know:

Harpy EagleA harpy eagle in flight. Credit: Mdf / cc license

1. Harpy eagles are the largest eagle in the Americas, with a wingspan of up to six and a half feet wide, and are considered the most powerful raptors in the Amazon. You may call them the avian emperors of the Americas.

Harpy EagleA harpy eagle feasts on an iguana. Credit: Dave Curtis / cc license

2. As apex predators in the rainforest canopies they call home, they prey on species as big as monkeys, sloths and even brocket deer! It’s not a bad life being on top of the food chain.

Harpy EagleBeware the talons. Credit: mirshasha / cc license

  1. 3. The back talons on this fierce bird can reach up to 5 inches long. To put that into perspective, that’s longer than a grizzly bear’s claws! It’s no wonder they manage to make meals out of moderately sized mammals.

Harpy EagleA harpy eagle nest. Credit: Aaron Pomerantz / cc license

4. Harpy eagles are also infamously known for having nests that are extremely rare and a challenge for even the most skilled explorers to find. This is because their nests are sparingly spaced out over large amounts of rainforest and well hidden up in the massive trees. Plus, they only reproduce every two to three years, and even then it’s just one chick at a time.

Harpy EagleCredit: mirsasha / cc license

5. Female harpy eagles can weigh up to twice as much as her mate. I guess we know who runs the show in these nests!

Story by Betsy Painter, International Affairs. For more stories from Central America week, please click here.

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