Birds of the Bible – Harpy Eagle

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by Lee at ZM 2014

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by Lee at ZM 2014

And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar: (Eze 17:3)

Dan and I were off on a birdwatching adventure this week. This time we visited the Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia aviary and the Palm Beach Zoo. With over a thousand photos to sort through, I have some new photos to share. Because of the number, it will also be awhile before they are sorted and cleaned up.

At Zoo Miami we encountered a Harpy Eagle and its young one. As far as I know, this is a first for seeing this Eagle. Its holding area is quite large and has a fly area right over the walk path. The biggest problems were a fence and it was very shady there which made photographing them challenging. But what an amazing creation by the Lord. Love that “hair do”.

And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar: (Eze 17:3)

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by Lee at Zoo Miami 2014

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by Lee at Zoo Miami 2014

I was able to get a few shots through the fence. I am not complaining about the fence being between me and that eagle. Looking at that beak makes one very thankful for a barrier between us.

Wikipedia says, “On occasion, larger prey such as capybaras, peccaries and deer are taken and they are usually taken to a stump or low branch and partially eaten, since they are too heavy to be carried whole to the nest. Red brocket deer, a species commonly weighing over 30 kg (66 lb), have been reportedly predated and, in such cases, the eagle may have to tear it into pieces or feed on at the killing site rather than fly with as it would be too heavy. The Harpy have been recorded as taking domestic livestock, including chickens, lambs, goats and young pigs, but this is extremely rare under normal circumstances. They control population of mesopredators such as capuchin monkeys which prey extensively on bird’s eggs and which (if not naturally controlled) may cause local extinctions of sensitive species.”

Here is a Capybara resting alongside a White Ibis and a Crested Screamer. It gives you an idea how large a critter the Harpy can take as prey. (The Capybara is problem happy it is at Palm Beach and not down in Miami with the Hapry.)

Capybara with White Ibis and Crested Screamer by Lee at PB Zoo

Capybara with White Ibis and Crested Screamer by Lee at PB Zoo 2014

Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness. (Lam 4:19)

The Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) is a Neotropical species of eagle. They are one of the 256 members of the Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks & Eagles Family. It is sometimes known as the American Harpy Eagle to distinguish it from the Papuan Eagle which is sometimes known as the New Guinea Harpy Eagle or Papuan Harpy Eagle. It is the largest and most powerful raptor found in the Americas, and among the largest living species of eagles in the world. It usually inhabits tropical lowland rainforests in the upper (emergent) canopy layer. Destruction of its natural habitat has seen it vanish from many parts of its former range, and it is nearly extirpated in Central America. In Brazil, the Harpy Eagle is also known as Royal-Hawk (in Portuguese: Gavião-Real).

Because of its endangerment, zoos are keeping them to help in breeding. In fact, there is a second Harpy in this enclosure. They have been successful in having chicks born. One was born in 2009 and again in 2013. I assume this young Harpy Eagle is the one born last year.

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by Lee at Zoo Miami

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by Lee at Zoo Miami

It is sometimes cited as the largest eagle alongside the Philippine Eagle, that is somewhat longer on average and the Steller’s Sea Eagle, that is slightly heavier on average. The wingspan of the Harpy Eagle is relatively small, an adaptation that increases maneuverability in forested habitats and is shared by other raptors in similar habitats. The wingspan of the Harpy Eagle is surpassed by several large eagles who live in more open habitats, such as those in the Haliaeetus and Aquila genera.

Additional Facts: (From Nature PBS)

  • The harpy was first described by Linnaeus in his 1758 Systema Naturae as the Vultur harpyja, after the Greek mythological spirit that had the body of an eagle and the face of a human.
  • The harpy eagle is most closely related to the crested eagle (Morphnus guianesis) and the New Guinea harpy eagle (Harpyopsis novaeguineae).
  • The harpy eagle is Panama’s national bird.
  • Its talons can be as large as the claws of a grizzly bear.
  • As an apex predator, the harpy eagle is often believed to be a key indicator of the health of the forest ecosystem. Where there are healthy numbers of harpy eagles, there are healthy numbers of the species it preys upon.
  • The exact number of harpies is not known. Birdlife International estimated that there were between 20,000 and 50,000 birds in 2009, but those numbers are far from definitive.

The Harpy Eagle is on the Coat of Arms of Panama – Harpy Eagle at Top – Wikipedia

To find out more about the Harpy see the links below. There a numerous verses in the Bible about Eagles and these are just a few more of them.

Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. (Pro 23:5)

The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. (Dan 4:33)

Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. (Job 39:27-28)

See:

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One thought on “Birds of the Bible – Harpy Eagle

  1. Pingback: Greek Mythology: The Harpies | Daily Two Cents | Dispensable Thoughts

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