How a harpy's menacing claws helps it meet it's family obligations ?


A harpy in flight.

Harpy claws contribution to family life


The harpy’s snatching claws have built a reputation.

Nevertheless, the harpy eagle’s powerful claws and beak can also serve a peaceful purpose.

What purpose?

Raising a family.

Usually every other year around the latter part of May, harpy couples pick a giant silk-cotton tree in which to build a nest.

Often using an old nest as a starter, they “remodel” it to suit their personal taste.

To do this the harpy couple begins snatching—not opossums and monkeys—but sticks that are then interwoven into a platform that measures four feet (1.2 m) across and is two feet (0.6 m) thick.

Green sprigs from nearby trees are used for touch-up work.

Interestingly, though, the female is a bit pickier in this regard.

The female may fly around for a full five minutes before she picks the sprig that suits her fancy.

The male, however, shows no such preference and collects them at random.

Even in the animal kingdom, females show a knack for interior decorating!

When nest building is done, the harpy female lays two eggs and settles down for a 56-day incubation period, braving the hot sun and the slashing rain.

The father, though, prefers the outdoors, coming back once a week to bring his mate food.

He very considerately takes a turn at guarding the nest, allowing his mate to fly to a nearby tree to enjoy her meal.

When break time is over, though, he returns to the jungle until she calls for him with her urgent “peeeea” to remind him of his family obligations.

After one egg hatches (the second egg is ignored), father’s work doubles.

He makes food deliveries twice a week until the eaglet is half grown.

And for about three months, mother feeds the chick.

After that the young one is able to feed itself—though it still prefers to be fed by its mom.

After a month the eaglet gets on its feet and wobbles around imitating its parents’ repetitive “peeeeeea.”

When strong winds sweep over the nest, junior is seen flapping his wings, actually taking off for a moment.

When five months old, the eaglet can fly around but is still fed by its parents for some more months until it is strong enough to go its own way.

The day soon comes, however, when it takes three or four deep strokes, makes a graceful long glide, and disappears into the forest.

There it will live up to its name as the consummate snatcher of game.