Harpy Eagles

The ultimate predator


Which animal is the true king of the jungle? Who is named after a fierce Greek monster? The harpy eagle, that’s who! It’s the ultimate predator, and its appearance, habitat, and prey are quite interesting.
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This species has an unique appearance. Harpy eagles are two to three feet tall and weigh ten to fifteen pounds. These birds have feathers that are white and gray with a gray crescent-shaped double row of feathers that stand up on its head. Harpy eagles have a black, hooked, sharp beak. These eagles have black wings that are short and wide to help them fly faster. The harpy eagles have a seven foot wingspan. They have long, gray tail feathers to help brake and steer as they fly. These birds have large, thick, yellow legs bearing sharp, black, talons about five inches long. The talon span is up to nine inches.
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Harpy eagles have an interesting range of space to live. These birds are native to Central America, meaning southern Mexico to northern Argentina. Harpy eagles are found in the emergent layer, which is about 130 feet off of the ground, where they build seven foot wide and three foot thick nests called airies. This species builds airies in the tallest tree in their habitat that has strong enough branches. Airies are added to annually. When the airies grow too big, these birds build a new airie. This species likes to use forks in a tree to build their airies. Airies are built with a depression in the middle. When the females lay eggs, they are placed in the depression and covered with leaves. The leaves are replaced when they dry out. Harpy eagles have territories that can exceed 10,000 acres. Other harpy eagles might battle for a territory.

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These eagles are top predators, so they have interesting hunting and eating habits. Harpy eagles hunt in territories. They sit on a high branch until their eyes, which can see seven times as far as humans and sideways and backwards, spy their prey. Then, this species swoops down at speeds up to 50 mph. If they have to, a harpy eagle will use hearing to find hidden prey. This species of eagle might even run to catch prey. When they catch up to their prey, these eagles grab them with their long talons. Once an animal is in the talons of these birds, there is no escape. When these high-flying birds have caught their prey, an eagle of this type will tear off a piece of meat with their sharp beaks. This species of eagle eats “medium sized” animals like monkeys, parrots, and macaws. They are carnivores, so they only eat meat.
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The harpy eagle is a near threatened animal species in conservation status. It is killed by habitat loss and shooting. In some countries, shooting these eagles is legal. In others it is illegal. Harpy eagles are not afraid of humans, easily making them a target for hunters. They need our help survive.

The ultimate predator is in need of our help to stay alive. If you get the chance to see this magnificent creature, cherish it. Harpy eagles are rarely found creatures. The true king of the jungle is calling. The harpy eagle is awaiting your answer.


Chinery, Michael. Predators and Prey. New York, NY: Crabtree Pub., 2000. Print.

Donovan, Sandra. Harpy Eagles. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 2002. Print.

"Harpy Eagle | American Bird Conservancy." American Bird Conservancy. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.

"Near Threatened: The Animal Files." Near Threatened: The Animal Files. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.

Parry-Jones, Jemima. Eagle & Birds of Prey. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. Print.