Oct 12, 2009

The Harpy Eagle, Panama's national bird...



The Harpy Eagle is the most powerful eagle of the humid Neotropical forests. Its is under threat because of forest loss and persecution from humans. These magnificent eagles only reproduce slowly in the wild with one chick every two to three years, so to expect any increase in their numbers from breeding in the wild will take a long time. Early South American explorers named the bird "harpy" eagle after the predatory half-woman, half-bird monster of Greek mythology.

The "Aguila harpia" is a very rare animal with an unknown population. This incredibly beautiful and majestic bird weighs from 5-9 kg. (males) and 7-9 kg. (females) with a wingspan of 7 feet (around 2.2 m). This is one of the largest of the 50 species of eagles and can achieve a speed of around 50 mph.

The Harpy Eagle's habitat is the tropical lowland forests like the Darien and is geographically restricted from southern Mexico, through Central and South America down to the northern part of Argentina.

In the wild the diet of the Harpy Eagle consists of small tree dwelling animals such as monkeys, opossums and sloths.

Its head is pale grey and crowned with a double crest. The back of the animal is black and its underside is white with a black stripe or band going up the chest thus giving it a menacing look to match its reputation.

There is knowledge of about 35 harpy nests in the Republic of Panama, although there are surely more.

The country is willing to save its national bird by leaving it and its habitat alone, and that's a conscious decision that people have to be convinced to make.

Two eggs are usually laid but only one chick hatches after 53-56 days of incubation. This species has one of the longest rearing periods of any raptor; about 2-3 years can pass between the birth of the chick and the next nesting attempt.

1 comment:

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