Harpy eagles have to be one of the biggest eagle species out there. With a wingspan of around 7 feet, 5-inch long talons, and enough strength to exert 110 pounds of bone-crushing pressure, they truly are the kings and queens of the sky.
That is unless they get shot down by a poacher. This is Antonio Fernandini Guerrero and a female harpy eagle he personally nursed back to health from a gunshot wound. The eagle had been previously rehabilitated in captivity before she was released into the wild. The hopes were that she would successfully return to her natural life, hunting, mating, and helping her species.
Unfortunately, the feathery giantess was shot by a poacher. She survived with the help of Antonio but is now blind in one eye and can’t be released in the wild again. Antonio has taken it entirely upon himself to take care of the eagle and to feed her and house her on his own.
Harpy eagles are one of the largest species of eagle, significantly bigger than most of the other 100+ eagle species worldwide. This particular beauty weighs over 20 pounds and is even bigger than the average harpy. The males are about twice smaller than the females.
These gorgeous birds are native to Mexico and most South American countries going as far south as Northern Argentina. They do need lots of open space and large trees to hunt and nest. They use only the highest trees in the rainforest jungles to build their giant nests out of branches, sticks, plants, animal fur and bones, and anything else they can find.
The harpy’s usual prey includes monkeys, sloths, birds, iguanas, snakes, and almost anything else they can get their claws on. A full-grown harpy eagle has no problem killing prey that’s as heavy as the bird and then flying away with it. When they hunt, the harpies can stalk their prey from over 220 yards and chase it down with a speed of over 50 miles per hour.
When they mate and nest, the harpies do so with the same partner for life.
The harpy eagles also lay eggs quite rarely – once every two or three years, with the young eagles hanging around their parents for as much as two years before the fly away. All this explains why the harpy eagles have been facing difficulties maintaining their population.
Between the deforestation, loss of habitat, constant hunting, and their slow breeding, these magnificent birds may find themselves in real danger soon. They’re not officially endangered yet, fortunately, but with their progressively dropping numbers, they might find themselves on the Red List of endangered species soon.