This a bird of prey that you wouldn't want to cross paths with but its reputation is far from deserved. The Harpy Eagle, scientific name Harpia harpyja, is actually one of the biggest and most powerful birds in the world.
The species recently got in the spotlight due to a photo that went viral on the internet. It was posted on an Imgur platform and was re-posted on Reddit. In the picture you can see a man posing next to an enormous Harpy Eagle with very large claws.
A mighty predator
As the biggest eagle on the American mainland, the Harpy Eagle can measure over 3 feet long and can have a wing span of up to 6 and a half feet wide. Females weigh between four and nine kilograms and are generally larger than the males. Female Harpy Eagles weigh about two times more than their male counterparts.
The species also has impressively large claws that measure about 4 inches which is as long as a grizzly bear's claws! This feature allows the Harpy Eagle to hunt and attack other animals such as monkeys, sloths or baby dear that weigh almost as much as they do.
The Harpy Eagle originated in low altitude tropical rainforests where they used their agility to fly between trees and branches to attack tree-dwelling animals. Its list of prey is actually quite diverse and includes animals such as iguanas, parrots and raccoons. This bird can also attack land animals and livestock.
A near-threatened species
The Harpia harpyja was fairly widespread from Mexico in Central American to Argentina in South America. However, the damage to the bird's natural habitat caused by human activity has caused the population to become extinct in certain regions, especially in Central America; this, in turn, has made the bird rarer.
Today, the Harpy Eagle is considered a near-threatened species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The actual state of the population is unknown but it is estimated that there are less than 50,000 birds left. Some conservation organisations such as The Peregrine Fund are also taking measures to protect the species.
If the Harpy Eagle loses its title as the largest eagle in mainland America it would be competing with other species in the world such as the Sea Eagle or Steller's Sea Eagle for the title. These Asian birds of prey have a wingspan that can reach almost 8 feet long and can weigh up to 9 kilograms.
Check out the video above to see this incredible creature for yourself!