- Three photographers snapped the birds in the Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador
- They filmed the chick for two days high up in the rainforest canopy
- Harpy eagles are large apex predators and the chick’s parents caught a porcupine and a sloth, which the chick gobbled down
- They are seldom seen as they are rare, have large territories and do not soar
- The creatures are worshiped as gods by an Amazonian tribe
16:32, 27 May 2014
17:36, 27 May 2014
The harpy eagle may be the largest and most powerful raptor found in the Americas, but it is also one of the rarest.
Few people have seen a harpy eagle chick, but three lucky photographers managed to snap a mother with her fluffy offspring.
The wildlife experts climbed into the rainforest canopy to observe two harpy eagles with their chick for two days and got so close that they were able to get the whole birds in frame.
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Snap happy: Few people have seen a harpy eagle chick, but three lucky photographers managed to snap a mother with her fluffy offspring (pictured)
THE HARPY EAGLE
The harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) is the largest and most powerful raptor found in the Americas.
They have wingspans of up to 7ft (2.1metres) and are around the same height as a five-year-old child.
The birds live in the rainforest canopy, which means they are hard to spot.
They have talons comparable to a grizzly bear’s and a sharp beak which they use to dismember monkeys and sloths.
Harpy eagles have large territories for hunting from 3,000 to 7,000 hectares.
An Amazonian tribe called the Huaorani believe they are the descendants of the jaguar and harpy eagle and worship the two animals as gods.
Photographer Jeff Cremer of Rainforest Expeditions said: âItâs so rare itâs like seeing a unicorn.â
âWhen Lucas Bustamante and Jaime Culebras [fellow photographers at TropicalHerping] sent me a message on Facebook saying that they found a harpy eagle nest I booked the next flight to the jungle.â
Harpy eagles are apex predators in the Amazon Rainforest and have huge wingspans of up to 7ft (2.1metres).
When they are perched on a branch, they are around the same height as a five-year-old child.
The birds might look cute, but they have talons the size of grizzly bear claws and a sharp beak which they use to dismember monkeys and sloths.
Hungry: The chick has a shock of white feathers (pictured left) and was treated to two meals by its doting parents (right), while the photographers looked on from their precarious treetop perch
Harpy eagles are top avian predators in the Amazon Rainforest and have huge wingspans of up to seven ft (2.1m). When they are perched in a branch, they are around the same height as a five-year-old child, but this chick has not yet reached its full size
Despite their large size, seeing a harpy eagle is unusual as unlike other birds of prey they donât soar, but instead prefer to lurk in the canopy of the forest, a little like a predatory cat.
They are also hard to spot because they have large territories covering anywhere from 3,000 to 7,000 hectares of forest.
âBirders spend their whole lives just to catch a glimpse of the harpy eagle,â Mr Cremer said.
âWe were incredibly lucky to be able to sit in a tree for two days right next to a family of them. What makes that especially rare is the fact that a pair of harpy eagles nest just once every two or even three years.â
Comfy: The photographers immediately saw a harpy eagle chick nestled in a fortress of soft leaves and twigs (pictured), measuring around 4ft thick and 5ft wide, waiting for its mother to return
Dinner: The birds might look cute, but they have talons the size of grizzly bear claws and a shark beak which they use to dismember monkeys and sloths (stock image)
Evidence: Like many birds of prey, harpy eagles regurgitate pellets of indigestible food. This pellet (stock image) discovered in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador, is from a seven-month-old chick and contains the claws and fur from a two-toed sloth
âI’ve seen jaguars, tapirs and pumas and have even been the first person to film new species, but seeing the harpy eagle feed and interact with its chick was really amazing.â
To get the amazing shots, the team set out in the dark at 4.30am and began to climb a tree in the rainforest, eventually setting up their kit at around 12 storeys high, on a precarious-looking platform to which they were tied.
They immediately saw the harpy eagle chick nestled in a fortress of soft leaves, measuring around 4ft thick and 5ft wide (1.2metres to 1.5metres), waiting for its mother to return.
âWe were really surprised when she showed up. She swooped in without a sound while carrying a fully grown Brazilian porcupine in her claws,â Mr Cremer said. âShe just sat there and watched while the baby ate it up.â
Demanding: The mother harpy eagle brought her chick a fully grown Brazilian Porcupine in her claws to eat and later, her partner delivered half a sloth for the fluffy baby with a big appetite
Perched: The wildlife experts (pictured) climbed into the rainforest canopy to observe two harpy eagles with their chick for two days and got so close that they were able to get the whole birds in frame
Divine: In Ecuador there is an Amazonian tribe called the Huaorani who believe that they are descendants of the jaguar and the harpy eagle (pictured)
Afterwards, the mother called her mate â a huge male â to deliver half a sloth to the nest for the second course of their dinner.
Fellow wildlife photographers and biologists Mr Bustamante and Mr Culebras have spent the last decade photographing wildlife in the Ecuadorian rainforest and helped film the harpy eagle family.
âIn my country, Ecuador, there is an Amazonian tribe called the Huaorani,â Mr Bustamante explained.
âThey believe that they are descendants of the jaguar and the harpy eagle. They worship these two animals as their gods and view them as being very important to the jungle.
âAfter being face to face with a harpy eagle it is easy to see why they believe that. Finding myself in the jungle with that mythological creature, was like being in front of a legendary Griffin.â
Mr Culebras said that they were able to photograph two jaguars, a puma and her cub, a family of otters and hundreds of macaws on their trip.
They also saw four species of monkeys and dozens of peccaries visiting the lodge they were staying in every day.
Elusive: Harpy eagles are also hard to spot because they have large territories covering anywhere from 3,000 to 7,000 hectares of forest (pictured)
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Edinburgh, United Kingdom,
48 minutes ago
Harpy Eagles are such magnificent birds. It is always so lovely to see how tender they are when they are feeding their babies, they are such wonderful parents as are all raptors. We could learn a lot our beautiful wild creatures.
1 hour ago
Endangered you say? Message DM if you would like the coordinates of the bird’s nest.
Longyearbyen, Svalbard And Jan Mayen,
1 hour ago
Looks like a large blood-sucking tick attached close to the chick’s left eye.
3 hours ago
Amazing photos and wonderful birds, but as much as I love all animals, cute is not the word that springs to mind when I see that chick!
Manchester, United Kingdom,
4 hours ago
4 hours ago
Cardiff, United Kingdom,
5 hours ago
Absolutely spectacular photos
2 of 3 repliesSee all replies
1 hour ago
1 hour ago
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