Rainforest eagle is so big that some people think it’s a person in a bird costume

Because of birds’ ability to pick up and fly to and from any place, they have become unanimous symbols of freedom. And no bird encapsulates this quite as much as the Eagle.

Eagles are symbols of freedom in many cultures. In America, the Eagle was chosen as the national bird because of its fierce look and its appearance of freedom. In Native American beliefs, the eagle is a sacred creature because of its ability to fly so high. And there’s one eagle that encapsulates these ideas perfectly. As far as symbolism goes, it is Panama’s national bird, which is pretty impressive.

Meet the rainforest native who is shockingly big.

flickr - twobears2 Source: flickr - twobears2

The Harpy Eagle is an eagle native to Central and South America. It prefers to live in tropical habitats and warm weather. The bird is most common in Brazil, a country known for its Amazon rainforest.

The Harpy Eagle’s average length is over 3 feet. They weigh between 13 and 20 pounds, which is quite large for a bird! Female Harpy Eagles tend to be larger than the males.

flickr - gails_pictures Source: flickr - gails_pictures

In addition to their size, they also have large talons.

Seriously, these claws are impressive. They can grow up to 4 inches long and because of these long and strong talons, these birds are able to lift prey that weighs the same as they do. That gives them a wide variety of food to eat.

flickr - twobears2 Source: flickr - twobears2

This makes them ideal predators.

And Harpy Eagles have a lot of prey. Although you may be used to seeing birds that are content to eat seeds, these eagles prefer the meat of mammals. Harpy Eagles are apex predators, meaning they are the top of their food chain.

flickr - The Next Gen Scientist Source: flickr - The Next Gen Scientist

These birds eat other rainforest animals. Because they can lift prey that equals their size, their choice of dinner is rather large. Common prey for Harpy Eagles are: sloths, macaws, monkeys, and iguanas.

flickr - The Next Gen Scientist Source: flickr - The Next Gen Scientist

Due to their size and strange characteristics, some people think these birds are actually human in disguise.

And pictures have been entertaining the internet. I mean, they are pretty big. And from certain angles, they do look like a human with really intense makeup and costumes. It can be pretty freaky to think about for too long.

But, these birds are just birds! Although they do share some traits with humans. One things Harpy Eagles and humans have in common is that they mate for life, meaning that once a bird finds a mate they like, they stay together for ever. They raise their babies together and everything, it’s pretty cute.

flickr - berniedup Source: flickr - berniedup

But, do not be afraid of the Harpy Eagle.

These creatures are optimal for admiring from afar. They tend to be quiet when away from their nest, meaning that they don’t cause a lot of disturbances. And, they tend to stay inside the rainforest, where they can enjoy the cover of trees.

flickr - cuatrok77 Source: flickr - cuatrok77

Additionally, these birds have a “near-threatened” status, meaning that their population size is decreasing. If this trend continues, they could face the risk of extinction. As apex predators, this means bad news for the health of rainforests generally. A thriving apex predator population means that the other animal populations are also thriving. A dwindling Harpy Eagle population likely means that their prey is also having population problems, which threatens the food chain in general.

Hopefully, with human conservation efforts, these birds can be rescued.

flickr - cuatrok77 Source: flickr - cuatrok77

Many human-led activities such as deforestation and development are causing the loss of these animals. There are solutions that can be implemented to help Harpy Eagles and other creatures in the rainforest survive.

Thankfully, because the Amazon Rainforest is so important to the health of the world overall, the World Wildlife Fund is leading some conservation efforts to protect it. You can help support their work in many ways and hopefully protect the Harpy Eagle.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

Source: PBS, The Rainforest Site, World Birds, World Wildlife Fund