About the Harpy Eagle
The Tambopata Amazon area is home to one of the most interesting birds in all of Amazonia, the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja). This interesting species is the largest bird of prey in the Amazon rainforest and one of the largest eagles in the entire expanse of the world. Although there are healthy populations of this majestic bird in the Peruvian rainforests of Tambopata, they are very difficult to spot, so if you catch a glimpse of one on your visit to Tambopata consider yourself very lucky.
Interesting facts about the Harpy Eagle
- This bird is an Amazonian apex predator: in the Amazon rainforest, Harpy Eagles share the top of the food chain with Jaguars and Anacondas. The Jaguar is the predator that dominates the forest floor, the Anaconda rules the swamps and lakes, and the Harpy Eagle dominates the skies and treetops in the Amazon rainforest.
- What does their diet consist of? The Harpy Eagle’s common victims were normally thought to be sloths and monkeys. However, recent studies in Tambopata concluded that they also catch and feed on a variety of animals. They are predators of large birds such as toucans, kinkajous and even kill small deer, definitely a very interesting predator.
- Oversized beak and talons: Harpy Eagles look especially intimidating because of their huge claws similar to those of a Brown Bear and also their huge beak. For a point of comparison, the Harpy Eagle’s legs can be almost as thick as the average person’s wrist.
- Very difficult to observe and possesses great range: The development of this eagle historically occurred from the tropical forests of southern Mexico to the Atlantic coast of Brazil. However, because they need large tracts of Amazonian rainforest full of prey to subsist, the population has disappeared from many areas of the Amazon.
How to plan your jungle trip to see the Harpy Eagle and other Amazonian wildlife?
- Visit their nesting areas: Because these eagles occupy large territories, it is much easier to observe them when they are nesting. Fortunately, there is an active harpy eagle nest at Refugio Amazonas (as of 2018). It even has its own weekly video blog, the Harpy Cam.
- Observation from a canopy tower or observation tower: Many tour groups (especially birders) can get a glimpse of the iconic harpy eagle by scanning the canopy or observation tower in the rainforest over the course of several hours, only patience can endow you with this experience, many Amazon lodges offer canopy towers within their facilities.
- Explore with an expert guide: If you are visiting the impressive Amazon lodges, ask about specialized tours for Harpy Eagle watching, there are many experienced guides operating in Tambopata who will help you find these iconic birds, emblems of the Amazon.
- The best time to observe these birds is between the months of October to May, this time coincides with their nesting season so if your goal is to catch a glimpse of these birds, do not forget to book your tour within these dates.