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Harpy Eagles

The American harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), commonly known as the harpy eagle, is the national bird of the Republic of Panama and appears in the country’s coat of arms. The bird's name is derived from the Greek word harpe, referring to a bird of prey that was noted by Greek scholars and philosophers, and may be a reference to the mythological creature that had the body of a vulture, sharp claws, and a woman’s face.

The harpy eagle does, indeed, have a distinctive look. The pale-gray plumage on its head fan into a crest when the bird is alarmed, and a facial disk of feathers may enhance its hearing. Its back is covered with black feathers, and its underside is white. It is the largest eagle in the Americas, and the female can be twice as large as the male. The harpy eagle's wingspan can be up to 6.5 feet, and its massive talons can be 5 inches (13 centimeters) long, surpassing the size of grizzly bear claws.

The bird’s native habitat once ranged from Mexico to northern Argentina, but hunting, logging, niche encroachment, and poaching have drastically reduced bird's number, especially in the north. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers it to be near threatened.


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