Podcast

How Harpy Eagles Are Designed to Kill

Named after the Harpies of Greek mythology, females can sport five-inch talons and weigh up to 20 pounds.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.

Transcript:

This is BirdNote.

If there is a single bird that captures the imagination of birders it may be the Harpy Eagle.

Harpy Eagles are huge, powerful hunters that spend their lives in tall, remote tropical forests in Central and South America. Named for the Harpies of Greek mythology, gruesome women with the bodies of birds, these eagles fly from tree to tree in search of food, rarely venturing into the open sky above.

Feathered in varying shades of gray with a white belly, the Harpy has a strong hooked beak, and distinctive tall feathers that stand out straight from its head.

Harpy Eagles are massive. Females, larger than males, are three and a half feet long and weigh up to 20 pounds. That’s heavier than the largest Bald Eagle. Their rear talons measure a full five inches, ideal for plucking sloths and monkeys from the trees.

Harpy Eagles may not be the Hounds of Zeus, but they are legendary in their own right. However, human persecution and ongoing cutting of forest are threatening these eagles, who raise just one nestling every two or three years.

So each one is precious—and spectacular.

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

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Credits:

Written by Bob Sundstrom

Producer: John Kessler

Managing Producer: Jason Saul

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

Bird sounds provided by Xeno-canto. Recorded by David Edwards and Dušan M. Brinkhuizen.

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2018 Tune In to Nature.org   August 2018/2019   Narrator: Michael Stein

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