Harpy bird. Description, features, species, lifestyle and habitat of the harpy

The myths and legends of ancient Greece mention evil creatures, half birds, half women, whom the gods sent to the guilty people as punishment. They stole the souls of people, abducted babies, food and livestock.

These winged daughters of the sea deity of Tavmant and the oceanic Electra guarded the gates to the underground Tartar, periodically flying into the settlements of people, ruining and quickly disappearing like a whirlwind. The concept of "harpy"from the Greek language it is interpreted as" kidnap, "" grab. "Horrific and at the same time attractive. This bird of prey belongs to the hawk-shaped, subfamily harpievye. Not without reason it was named after mythical creatures, it has a bad temper.

Indians did not fear a single bird of prey, like harpies. The swiftness, magnitude, irritability and strength make these birds menacing. The owners of the Peruvian plantations declared a whole war on harpies, when they hunted by hunting for domestic animals. Sometimes it was impossible to have birds or a small dog, this impudent hunter constantly carried them away.

The Indians had a legend that the harpy bird was able to smash its head with its beak not only to the animal, but also to man. And her character is vicious and irritable. The one who managed to catch her and keep her in captivity, enjoyed great respect among relatives. The fact is that locals made very valuable jewelry and amulets from the feathers of these birds. And it is easier to get them from a bird caught from a young age than by hunting for adult birds.

If one of the natives was lucky enough to kill an adult South American harpy, he proudly walked around all the huts, collecting tribute from all in the form of maize, eggs, chickens and other things. The meat, fat and litter of harpy birds were valued among the Amazon tribes, they were credited with wonderful healing properties. The state of Panama chose the image of this amazing hunter for its coat of arms as the emblem of the country.

Now the harpy bird is listed in the Red Book. Only about 50,000 individuals remain, their number is inexorably decreasing due to deforestation and rare production of offspring. One family of harpy birds produces and brings up one cub every two years. So the harpies are in the zone of increased control by the state. It cannot be turned into a myth, sad and not from ancient Greece at all ...

Description and Features

South American harpy bird powerful and full of strength. This is actually a forest eagle. It is large, up to a meter in size, its wingspan reaches two meters. Female harpies are usually almost twice as large as their partners, and weigh more, about 9 kg. And the males are about 4.5-4.8 kg. Females are more powerful, but males are more maneuverable. In color, differences are invisible.

The head is large, light gray in color. And it is decorated with a predatory curved beak of a dark shade, very strong and raised high. The legs are thick, ending with long fingers and large curved claws. The plumage is soft and plentiful.

The back is slate gray, the belly is white with anthracite dots, the tail and wings are also dark gray with black and white stripes, and a black “necklace” on the neck. If the harpy is agitated, the feathers on its head stand on end, becoming like ears or horns. Harpy on the photo often appears precisely with them.

There is another distinctive feature of the bird - on the back of the head are long feathers, which also rise with strong excitement, becoming like a hood. At this point, they say, their hearing is improving.

Paws are powerful, clawed. Moreover, the claw is a rather formidable weapon. About 10 cm long, sharp and durable. A dagger, and nothing more. The bird is strong, able to lift its normal weight with its paws, a small roe deer or a dog, for example.

The eyes are dark, intelligent, hearing is excellent, eyesight is unique. A harpy is able to make out a thing about the size of a five-ruble coin from 200 m. In flight, speeds up to 80 km / h. Although the harpy belongs to the hawk detachment, for its size, vigilance and some similarities, it is called the largest eagle in the world.


The largest and most famous among the harpies is South American or big harpy. This bird is now the largest of the birds of prey on Earth, according to many experts.

It lives high, 900-1000 m above sea level, sometimes up to 2000 m. According to scientists, the South American harpy is second only to the legendary Haast eagle, which disappeared in the 15th century. There are three more species of harpy - New Guinean, Guiana and Filipino.

Guiana harpy has a body size of 70 to 90 cm, a wingspan of about 1.5 m (138-176 cm). Males weigh from 1.75 kg to 3 kg, females are slightly more. They live in South America, occupying a vast territory from Guatemala to the north of Argentina. The range covers many states: Honduras, French Guiana, Brazil, Paraguay, the east of Bolivia, etc. Lives in tropical rainforests, prefer river valleys.

An adult bird has a large dark tuft on its head and a long tail. The head and neck itself are brown in color, the lower part of the body is white, but there are chocolate specks on the belly. The back is brownish, blackish in color with asphalt specks. Wide wings and a large tail allow predators to skillfully maneuver among the thickets in pursuit of prey.

The harpian guanine bird may be adjacent to the South American harpie. But she is smaller than that, therefore, her production is less. She avoids rivalry with a large relative. Its menu consists of small mammals, birds and snakes.

New Guinea Harpy - A bird of prey, ranging in size from 75 to 90 cm. Feet without feathers. The wings are short. Tail with stripes of coal color. Distinctive features are a developed facial disc and a small but permanent crest on the head. The upper body is brown, gray, lower light, pastel and beige tones. The beak is black.

Its food is macaques, mammals, birds and amphibians. Lives in the rainforests of New Guinea. Settles high above sea level, about 3.5-4 km. Prefers a settled life. Sometimes it can run around the earth for the victim, but more often it hovers in the air, listening and looking closely at the sounds of the forest.

The Philippine harpy (in other words, the monkey eater) was seen in the 19th century on the Filipino island of Samar. Over the past years since its discovery, its number has fallen very much. Now it is very rare, the number of individuals has now decreased to 200-400.

This is mainly due to excessive persecution by man and disturbance of the habitat, deforestation. This is a threat to extinction. She lives on the islands of the Philippines and in the rainforests. There are several individuals in the famous zoos.

It looks similar to other birds of its family - the back is of an asphalt color, a light abdomen, a crest on the head, a strong narrow beak and clawed yellow paws. The head itself is white-yellowish in color with dark specks.

The size of this harpy is up to 1 m, the wingspan is more than two meters. Females weigh up to 8 kg, males up to 4 kg. The most favorite food - macaques, attacks domestic chickens that fly into the settlements. It can also attack larger animals - monitor lizards, birds, snakes and monkeys.

It does not disdain bats, palm squirrels and woolly wings. They hunt in pairs more successfully than individually. Very inventive - one flies up to a cluster of macaques, distracts them, and the second quickly loots prey. It is the national pride and mascot of the Philippines. For her murder there is punished more severely than for human. In a certain sense, we can be ranked among the relatives of harpies and crested eagles, kite eagles, and sparrow hawks.


The famous natural scientist Alfred Bram, the compiler of the amazing work "Animal Life", gave a general description of the birds of the hawk family. There is much in common in their character, lifestyle and even appearance.

All of them belong to birds of prey from the warbird detachment, they feed only on live animals. They do not experience difficulties in any type of hunting, they equally skillfully catch the victim in flight, and when she runs, sits or swims. Station wagons of a kind. Places for the construction of nests are chosen by the most secret ones. Season and breeding characteristics are generally similar for everyone.

Lifestyle & Habitat

The South American harpy bird is found in every vast rainforest in Central and South America, ranging from Mexico to the middle of Brazil, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. It usually settles in the most overgrown places, close to water. And they live only in pairs, and forever loyal to each other.

Nests twist very high, at about 50 m in height. The nest is wide, with a diameter of 1.7 m or more, the structure is durable, made of thick branches, moss and leaves. Harpies do not like to fly from place to place, preferring to build one nest for several years. Their lifestyle is settled.

Once every two years, the female lays one yellowish egg. Royal offspring. And parents raise chicks. At the age of 10 months, he already flies well, but lives with his parents. And those, as if feeling that they are so few, protect him for as long as they can. Near the nest, the harpy can even attack a person and seriously injure him.

The largest harpy living in the zoo is Jezebel. Her weight was 12.3 kg. But this is the exception rather than the norm. A captive bird cannot represent weight. She moves less than the wild, and eats much more.

Despite the complexity of the content, many wish to buy a harpy bird. Regardless of the price. In captivity, they try to maintain conditions close to normal. But only good zoos can do it. A private person does not need to take responsibility for the life of this amazing creature. There are so few of them.

There are some observations about captive harpies. In a cage, it can remain motionless for a long time, so sometimes you can take it for an inanimate or a stuffed bird. As far as she is able to lie low, so much can she become furious or aggression at the sight of any other bird or animal.

Then she starts restlessly running around the cell, her expression becomes wild, she is very excited, makes sudden movements and screams loudly. Being held captive for a long time, it does not become manual, never trusts and does not get used to people, it can even attack a person. Coming into a rage, a harpy bird can bend the iron bars of a cage. Here is such a dangerous captive.


Harpy feeds on mammals. Sloths, monkeys, possums and nosoha are her menu. Sometimes catches parrots and snakes. Less often, it can include other large birds in the menu. Agouti, anteater, armadillo can also become its prey. And only she, perhaps, is able to cope with wood porcupine. Piglets, lambs, chickens, dogs, even cats can become victims.

At harpy bird of prey there is a second name - monkey-eater. And because of this gastronomic addiction, she was more often exposed and is at risk for life. Many local tribes consider monkeys sacred animals, respectively, they are put to death a hunter.

They hunt alone in the afternoon. Her victims usually hide among branches and think that they are invulnerable. But the harpy bird of prey quickly creeps up, easily tacking among the thickets, and suddenly catches its prey.

Strong paws firmly squeeze it, sometimes breaking bones. However, nothing prevents her from driving her prey on the plain. She can easily drag a deer. Due to its speed and surprise, inevitability and aggressiveness, similar to its mythical prototype, she received this name.

Harpy a rare predator. She pulls the trachea from live prey, causing it to suffer for a long time. This cruelty is dictated by nature. The bird brings food to the chick still warm, with a pungent smell of blood. So she accustoms him to hunting. The harpy has no enemies, since it is at the top of the food chain, and in terms of habitat too.

Hunger in captive birds is insatiable. Captured as a child, the South American harpy bird ate one day a pig, turkey, chicken and a large piece of bovine meat. Moreover, she showed accuracy and ingenuity, taking care of the purity of her food.

If the food was dirty, she first threw it into a vessel with water. In this sense, they are decisively different from their mythical "namesake." Those were just famous for their uncleanliness and bad smell.

Reproduction and longevity

Harpy is an amazingly faithful partner. A pair is formed once and for all. About them we can say "swan fidelity." The principles of offspring are similar in all species of harpies.

Having chosen a partner, the harpies begin to build a nest for themselves. So to speak, a young couple provides housing for themselves and future offspring. The nests are high, they are large and durable. But before each new masonry, the harpies strengthen, expand and repair it.

The mating season begins in the rainy season, in the spring. But not every year, but every two years. Feeling the mating season is approaching, the birds behave calmly, without fussing, they already have a "living space" and a couple.

The female usually produces one large egg a little yellow in color with specks, less often two. Only the second chick, being born, is deprived of the attention of the mother, her heart is given to the first-born. And he usually dies in the nest.

Angry and irritable, harpy birds at the nest double these qualities. Harpy bird hatches an egg for about two months. Only the mother is sitting on the masonry, the head of the family at this time carefully feeds her.

The chick hatches already in the dry season, after 40-50 days of hatching. And then both parents fly to hunt. The kid stays at home, having fun watching the world around him. From an early age, chicks intuitively feel their prey.

They react sharply to monkeys, parrots, sloths, scaring them with their cries. If the harpy chick is hungry, and his parents are not yet, he screams sharply, flaps his wings, urging them to return with prey. The harpy brings a half-dead sacrifice directly to the nest, where the chick finishes her, stamping her feet. So he learns to kill prey on his own.

For a long time, about eight months, caring father and mother very closely raise their chicks, then “skimp” on their duties, increasing the intervals between their appearance in the nest. Nature provided for such a development of events, so the chick does without food for 10-15 days. By this time he already knows how to fly and hunt a little.

They ripen by 4-5 years. Then the color acquires a special brightness, becomes more beautiful, more saturated. And predators at the age of 5-6 years fully mature. Harpy birds live on average up to 30 years.

Watch the video: Harpy Eagle. Amazing Animals (April 2020).

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