Interactions: The Apex

The Harpy Eagle is not an animal that you would want to get into a fight with. This ferocious raptor is an apex predator in every domain it inhabits, and is said to have no naturally occurring predators (Schulenberg 2009). There recently has not been any predators of the Harpy Eagle until evidence of humans hunting these creatures in the Brazilian Amazonia started to surface (Trinca et al. 2007). With their amazing eyesight and relatively unmatched flying ability, the Harpy Eagle is able to swoop down from the tops of canopies and literally snatch any small to medium sized mammal. From here, the mammal is almost always taken back to the nest to be eaten. Some of the rain forest’s delicacies that the eagle enjoys most are two-toed sloths, three-toed sloths, and capuchin monkeys (Seymour et al. 2010).            

To expand on its hunting capabilities, Harpy Eagles are patient hunters. They usually have a perch on a high branch of a tree where they can see openings in the canopy below. They eyes of the Harpy Eagle have extremely large pupils,3Side view of the Harpy Eagle. Photo taken by Andy Rogers, published on Flickr causing it have amazing vision
with little to no distortion in the light that is brought through. To
go along with its amazing sense
of sight, the Harpy Eagle also has fantastic hearing. It is theorized that it can differentiate between sounds of animals due to the unique anatomy of the crest of its head. It has been studied that every time a Harpy Eagle hears
the sound of an animal or human
it raises the feathers on these crests. This may cause the eagle
to have more sensitivity to sound (Piper 2007). The Harpy Eagle is also said to be instinctual incredible at finding the vital organs of its prey immediately to ensure a kill. I would not like to be on the receiving end of one of these swift attacks.

Harpy Eagle with Howler Monkey. Photo taken by Kirsten, published on Flickr    The largest eagle in the world though does not just
    hunt for eating purposes. The Harpy Eagle has been
    shown to be easily agitated by any sort of
    disturbance in its living environment, which is one
    of the reasons that it has not been thoroughly
    observed and studied. With this being said, the 5
    inch long talons of the Harpy Eagle are not to be
    messed with ( This bird has
    been known to pick up medium sized monkeys, that
    have either disturbed their nest or threatened their
    young, and take them to extremely high heights
    where they drop them to the forest floor.
    Surprisingly this cruel death leads the Harpy Eagle
    to play an important role in controlling the
    Capuchin monkey population. These monkeys are
    known to eat eggs of fragile species populations.
    The killing of these monkeys for no apparent reason
    by the Harpy Eagle actually saves many other
    species from extinction (
    Sometimes it can seem like the Harpy Eagle does not care about anything at all, but I’d like to think that this is just a false front put on to stay at the top of the food chain.