Did you know modern birds are descended from dinosaurs known as theropods? (That includes the T-rex!)
If you have a hard time making the connection, perhaps the Harpy Eagle will make you a believer. Well, either that or you’ll be even more confused about how such a thing came to be.
The Harpy Eagle is native to Central and South America and is one of the largest and most powerful birds around the world. They’re also rare with only less than 50,000 harpy eagles all over the world.
Carl Linnaeus, the “father of taxonomy” and Swedish physician, zoologist, and botanist, was the first one to refer to these raptors as harpy eagles, although he called them “harpy vultures.”
The Harpy Eagle’s name was inspired by Greek mythology’s Harpies, which were half-woman, half-bird.
We totally see it!
In fact, they look like a person dressed in a really trippy bird suit.
And yet somehow scarier.
The Harpy Eagle is huge – and the birds of prey have equally huge claws with talons that are three to five inches long.
They’re 3 to 4.5 feet tall with a wingspan of 6 feet and they weigh anywhere from 8.5 to 20lbs.
Their gray head is covered with a double crest of feathers. And when the harpy eagle feels a threat or just wants to show off, the crest of feathers fan out.
Their nests can be found in the tallest trees in the jungle and they add different materials to build them, including sticks, branches, plants, and even animal fur.
These nests are so big, they can fit a full-grown human (we just don’t want to find out the hard way!).
But despite the 6-feet wingspan though, their wings are too short to carry their bodies long distances in one swoop.
They fly slowly as they move from tree to tree – which somehow makes them even creepier.
Don’t get us wrong, we think they’re amazing creatures. We just can’t help but imagine running into one on a hike.
Harpy Eagles are active in the daytime and, with their sharp vision and hearing, they swoop low in the dark rainforest to hunt for their food (such as iguanas, parrots, porcupines, coatimundis, and raccoons). And when they’re not hunting, they’re settled on high trees, looking menacing.
Not creepy enough for you? Well, consider the fact that they can stomach a rotting animal carcass, so if they bring back a big kill, they can feast on it for a week without having to go hunting again.
Since harpy eagles rank on the top of the food chain, they have no reason to fear anyone or anything so there’s not much of a need to be aggressive.
They’re not the friendliest, but they do allow humans to approach them. But if you get too close to their nest, that face might be the last thing you see.
They can live anywhere from 25 to 35 years in the wild and they only breed every two years. They only lay one to two eggs, which the male and female harpy eagle take turns incubating.
Unfortunately, the population of harpy eagles is dwindling. They thrive in big, expansive rainforests, which are constantly being cut down.
And when they move to the outer edges of their habitat, you can imagine what happens. Humans aren’t the friendliest towards them. That’s why non-profit organizations work hard to educate people about harpy eagles.
If you’d like to learn more about them and conservation efforts to save these unique birds, be sure to scroll down to the video below!
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Source: YouTube – A WILD Connection,