Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CONSERVATION: The Harpy Eagle - An Endangered Species

A trainer feeds Luigi, an adult male Harpy eag...Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

The Harpy Eagle - An Endangered Species by Geoff Cummings

The Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) is one of the biggest of all eagles. Measuring around 37 inches (88cm) in height and weighing up to 18lbs (8kg) for females, and up to 16lbs (7kg) for males, harpy eagles have powerful talons that grow to about 5 inches (12cm) in length.

The harpy eagle was so named due to its similar looks to the half-avian, half-woman monster of Greek mythology - the Harpy.

The harpy eagle is found in the rainforests of Central and South America, where it builds its nest high up in the trees. Often it builds its nest in the crown of the kapok tree. Although it is a big bird, it can descend upon its prey almost without any noise as it flies through the rainforest canopy. Using its powerful talons it can crush the bones of sloths, monkeys, other birds, and reptiles. It will then carry off its prey and fly back to its nest, using its huge wing span of over six feet (173cm).

The harpy eagle is monogamous, mating for life. Although in breeding normally two eggs may be laid, only the first one to hatch is cared for by its parents, the other egg is simply ignored and doesn't hatch.

Unfortunately, due to poaching and the destruction of it's rainforest habitat, the bird is on the endangered species list. Panama declared it as its national bird, and efforts have been made to stop the poaching of it. Another problem with the conservation of the harpy eagle is that it isn't sexually mature until it reaches the age of four or five, and they only breed in two-year cycles.

In the Guayaquil Historic Park in Equador, however, they have a captive-breeding program. There, a healthy harpy eagle chick has been born. The Park boast around ninety species of birds, and is playing its part in ensuring the harpy eagle lives on, despite what seems the best (or should that be worst), efforts of man.

Geoff runs several sites, including DIY tips - How to Unblock a Bath and Garden Supplies for discount garden products.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Geoff_Cummings


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