© Cathy Burkey, Dallas Zoological Society
The endangered harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) is often referred to as the "ruler of the rainforest;" however it is actually one of the most endangered birds in Latin America. They are the heaviest of all bird species, with thick legs and 5-inch talons, or claws. Although their population once ranged from Mexico through Argentina, harpy eagles have disappeared almost entirely from Central America.
The greatest threats affecting the harpy eagle are human-related and include habitat loss and their being hunted for their tail feathers. Deforestation has led to a reduction in the number of silk-cotton trees that harpy eagles rely on for nesting and their tail feathers are used to make ceremonial head dresses.
The AZA Raptor Taxon Advisory Group and the Harpy Eagle Animal Program manage a small population of 14 eagles at 9 AZA-accredited institutions. For over 10 years The Peregrine Fund has worked with AZA-accredited zoos, assisting in restoring the harpy eagle in-situ population. The last harpy eagle scheduled for release was re-introduced to the Soberania National Park in Panama and conservationists hope to re-introduce those being bred at the Neotropical Raptor Center in Panama to the rain forest in Belize.
The AZA Conservation Endowment Fund and one of it’s sub-funds, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, has provided over $11,000 to The Peregrine Fund and the Neotropical Raptor Center for their work with the Panamanian government to develop conservation programs, and to track and monitor harpy eagles in the wild.
Harpy Eagle Facts
||Harpy eagles are over 39 inches tall with a 7 foot wingspan and 5 inch talons.
||They have grey, black and white feathers.
||These eagles live in rain forests with silk-cotton trees that provide nesting space.
||Eagles eat sloths, monkeys, and other rain forest canopy mammals.
||Harpy eagles mate for life, raising at most one eaglet every 2 years.