The Harpy Eagle
(Harpia harpyja)

Name: Harpy Eagle

Scientific Name: Harpia harpyja


           Central America and Northern South America

              The natural habitat of the Harpy Eagle is that of forests, staying close
                  to the tropical conditions around the Equator.

Status: Endangered             

Diet: In the wild: Small tree-living mammals like opossums, sloths and monkeys. In the zoo: ground beef (slightly bloody), and small rodents or rabbits.

Location in the Zoo: Raptor Canyon

Physical Description

The backside of the Harpy Eagle is covered with slate black feathers, and the underside is covered with white. There is a black band across the chest up to the neck. The head is pale gray, and is crowned with a double crest. This coloration gives it the menacing look to match its reputation.

General Information

The Harpy Eagle is one of the largest of the fifty species of eagles. It can grow to be as large as 36 to 40 inches in length (this mainly is seen in the females of the species). It can reach a weight up to 20 pounds. The harpy in flight can reach speeds above 50 mph. The Harpy is relatively half the length of an average-sized human, and it is this size that makes them formidable hunters. As in many birds of prey, females are larger than males.

Special Anatomical, Physiological, or Behavioral Adaptations

The Harpy Eagle, due to living in forests, has short wings.  These wings are used for speed and maneuverability.  They weave in and out of the trees, launching surprise attacks on their prey.  They use the trees for cover.  They also possess enormous grasping claws, and these are used for perching as well as for snaring prey.

Personal Observation:

While watching the Harpy Eagle at the Fort Worth Zoo, I notice that it was watching me more intently.  It sat perched on a tree, it seemed to be waiting to see what I was going to do. It was very menacing looking, it literally gave me chills up and down my spine.  To see such a big and deadly creature staring at you, is very intimidating. This pair of Harpy Eagles has been at the zoo for over 25 years.

Source List:

        provided information used in this page.

                    Brown, Leslie.  Eagles of the World.  Purnell & Sons Ltd.
                                    Cape Town.  1976.  pp. 9, 10, 12, 33-36, 48

                    Everett, Michael.  Birds of Prey.  Orbis Publishing Limited.
                                    London, England.  1976.  pp. 34, 35, 43, 46, 67, 91

                  Harrison, Colin and Alan Greensmith.  Birds of the World.
                                    Eyewitness Handbooks.  Dorling Kindersley.
                                    London, New York, Stuttgart.  1993.  p. 97.

Other Related links:

Thanks to E.Alfonso Velasco Jr. and to Keith Winter for suggesting corrections to this page.

Page Author: Corey Bowling:
E-mail Cory Bowling: or


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