The harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) is the largest and most powerful raptor found in the rainforest, and is now threatened with extinction due to deforestation, urbanization, and hunting, especially in the Atlantic Rainforest biome.
They can be found from Mexico (where they are almost extinct), through Central America and into South America to as far south as Argentina.
The are one of the largest species of eagles on the planet. Their wing span can reach up to 7 feet 4 inches (224 centimeters). A fully grown female weighs in at around approximately 9 kg and the male at 5 kg.
Image credit: leon_moore_nature_experience
The harpy eagle is able to fly quietly without attracting the attention of its prey. They typically feed on animals that live in trees, such as sloths, monkeys, macaws, tree porcupines, birds, snakes, lizards – quite a varied menu!
Image credit: DecorahPagent
It is now classified as vulnerable to extinction and has already been extinct locally in various regions and now considered almost extinct in the Atlantic Rainforest biome. There are fewer than 50,000 of them left worldwide.
A female will normally lay one to two eggs, and if there are two chicks only one survives. The parents take good care of their offspring for about 2 years, even after it is able to fly and hunt by itself. This means the reproduction of the harpy eagle is very slow, and this is a factor contributing to it’s near extinction.
Image credits: cuatrok77
Institutions that reproduce the harpy eagle under human care often have to incubate the eggs, allowing the mother to lay more eggs soon after as it doesn’t have to spend years looking after just one chick. By doing this, the conservation of the species becomes easier.
Image credits: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
In in effort to see the harpy eagle thrive in it’s natural habitat, Zoo Miami partnered with the government of Panama to establish the Harpy Eagle Project in the Republic of Panama.
The Harpy Eagle Center at Summit Zoo and Gardens, just outside Panama city, serves as the base for harpy eagle conservation and education programs throughout the republic.