Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja)

Harpy Eagle

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Harpia harpyja | [authority] Linnaeus, 1758 | [UK] Harpy Eagle | [FR] Harpie feroce | [DE] Harpyie | [ES] Arpia Mayor | [NL] Harpij


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Harpia have short wings for speed and maneuverability. They weave in and out of the trees , launching surprise attacks on their prey. This genus possesses huge strong claws and good eyesight; also a coronated crest. The genus comprises of one specie only, the South American Harpy Eagle.

Physical charateristics

The Harpy eagle has a two meter wingspan; body length to one meter. Harpies are black above with white undersides, except for a black chest band. Females are one-third larger than males. Both sexes have a crest of large feathers on their heads, which they raise when they hear noise. Like owls, harpies have a facial disk of smaller feathers, which may focus sound waves to sharpen hearing. Harpies are tremendously successful predators with talons longer than those of a grizzly bear.

Listen to the sound of Harpy Eagle

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ACCIPITRIFORMES/Accipitridae/sounds/Harpy Eagle.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 180 cm wingspan max.: 200 cm
size min.: 89 cm size max.: 105 cm
incubation min.: 53 days incubation max.: 58 days
fledging min.: 140 days fledging max.: 58 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 2  


Latin America : South Mexico to Northeast Argentina


Harpy Eagles are found in tropical lowland forests from southeastern Mexico to northern Argentina and southern Brazil. This bird prefers large expanses of uninterrupted forest, but will hunt in open areas adjacent to forest patches.


Harpy Eagles mate for life; they build a large nest made of sticks and twigs. Harpies care for their nest by renewing the nest material. This behavior apparently reduces the number of parasites and/or keeps the young cool. Nests are usually located very high (often over 40 m) in trees or on cliffs. Females lay 1-2 eggs in each clutch, but only one survives, the last egg is ignored and does not hatch. The incubation period is about 53 to 56 days. Both parents care for the young. The young fladge after 4 to 6 months. Chicks are fed for ten months or more, requiring a long dependency. Adults raise only one chick every two or three years. Sexual maturity is at four or five years and the chick may return to the nest in the tree in which it was born.

Feeding habits

Eagles are carnivores; they hunt and scavenge during the day (they are diurnal). Harpies eat sloths, monkeys, opossums, large reptiles (like iguanas), large rodents, and other birds. The eagle dives down onto its prey and catches it with outstretched, clawed feet.

Video Harpy Eagle


copyright: youtube


This species is classified as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be declining moderately rapidly owing to hunting and habitat loss.
Ranges from Central America to northern Argentina. Failry common in the interior of Suriname.
Harpy Eagle status Near Threatened


Presumed sedentary, some populations in Argentina may migrate.

Distribution map

Harpy Eagle distribution range map


Title A sight record of the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) in Chiapas, Mexico
Author(s): Jos Eduardo Morales-Prez
Abstract: I recorded a Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) while co..[more]..

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Title Nesting of the Harpy Eagle (Thrasaetus
Author(s): Bond, J.
Abstract: One of the most interesting results of an expediti..[more]..
Source: The Auk 44(4):562-563

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Author(s): Janeene M. Touchton, Yu-Cheng Hsu, & Alberto Palleroni
Abstract: A male and female Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), bo..[more]..
Source: ORNITOLOGIA NEOTROPICAL 13: 365-379, 2002

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