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Version 1.0

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Harpy Eagle Harpia harpyja

Thomas S. Schulenberg
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2009


The Harpy Eagle is classified by BirdLife International as Near Threatened (BirdLife International 2009). Although the Harpy Eagle continues to occur in much of its original range in South America, it is believed to be declining due to habitat loss and to direct persecution; and it already is very rare or extirpated from the southern, and, especially, from the northern limits of its range (see Historical Changes).

The Harpy Eagle is placed in Appendix I of CITES, the Convention on International Trade Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Effects of human activity on populations

The Harpy Eagle inhabits forest, but is tolerant of habitat disturbance and can persist in the regions with a mosaic of pasture and forest fragments. Nonetheless, like all forest species, it is threatened by large scale deforestation.
Unfortunately, the greatest threat to Harpy Eagles is direct persecution. Although Harpy Eagles can breed close to human settlements, if left undisturbed, they often are shot, either to satisfy curiosity or because of the perceived threat of a large raptor to livestock (Trinca et al. 2008). The effects of this hunting on Harpy Eagle populations have been studied quantitatively, but given the relatively low densities at which it occurs, and its slow rate of reproduction, the effects of hunting may be significant. This probably is especially true in areas where the population already is low, as is the case in much of Central America. In this regard, it is alarming to note that fully 40% of the records collated during a recent, range-wide survey of the status of the Harpy Eagle were of birds that were shot (Vargas et al. 2006).

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, T. S. (2009). Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.hareag1.01