The harpy eagle is the largest eagle on the planet, and it’s by far the scariest to look at.
These strange, enormous birds go viral on social media on a regular basis, and that’s because they do not look like something that should exist IRL on this planet. Instead, they look like something that Stephen King dreamed up for his latest book. Or maybe something that your most creative friend wears on Halloween night. Or a Pokémon.
I thought this was fake… Harpy Eagle incredible bird!! How have I never seen this before!? pic.twitter.com/1JZoBRCazC
— Marisa (@Eaco_M) September 30, 2019
“It looks like a person wearing a costume,” one person commented on a Reddit post about it.
But no, the harpy eagle is very much a real animal, one you will probably never encounter one in person unless you deliberately seek one out. They live in the rainforest throughout Mexico, Central America and South America. They’re most common in Brazil, and they make their nests about 150 feet above the ground.
Due to habitat destruction, the harpy eagle is becoming increasingly rare. There are now fewer than 50,000 left in the world.
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The Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) is the most powerful and largest eagle in the world. Our friend down in Rewa Lodge just found a new nesting stght; this individual is incubating her egg/eggs right now. Best pic and view of this beatuty. May 13, 2017. Canon 7D. #eagles #eagle #harpy #harpyeagle #bird #birdphoto #birdpicture #birdphotography #birdwatching #birding_lounge #birdofparadise #birdsofinstagram #birds_bees_flowers_n_trees #birding #birdofprey #largest #largebirds #wild #wildlife #wildlifephotography #wildlifepictures #nature #natureonly #naturephotography #forest #bestbirdshots #brilliant #southamerica #guyana
Other than its impressive size, the harpy eagle is also made distinct by the double crest on its head, which makes some birds look like they’re wearing an evil crown. Kings of the underworld, perhaps?
The harpy eagle’s wingspan can reach up to 7 feet and 4 inches wide, and their claws and talons are large enough to surround a human’s fist, as you can see here.
Handshake with a harpy eagle. Definitely falls in the “don’t try this at home” category.
They eat some truly impressive prey, including monkeys, sloths, tree porcupines, snakes, lizards and birds.
Luckily, they don’t eat people — but they’re still terrifying.