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Harpy Eagle Harpia harpyja
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be declining moderately rapidly owing to hunting and habitat loss.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Distribution and population
Harpia harpyja is sparsely distributed and generally rare throughout its extensive range in south Mexico, Guatemala, Belize (recently confirmed [B. W. Miller in litt. 2000]), Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama (including four birds introduced in 1998 [Bell 1998]), Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana (perhaps 200-400 pairs [Thiollay 1985b]), Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and north-east Argentina (Misiones, but formerly Formosa, Salta and Jujuy [Chebez 1994, Chebez et al. 1995, Vargas et al. 2006]). It is thought to be locally or regionally extinct in large parts of its former range, notably most of central and north Central America and possibly Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (Bierregaard 1994a, Bierregaard et al. 1995), but recent records suggest that the population in the southern Atlantic forests may be migratory (Galetti et al. 1997b).

Population justification
Partners in Flight estimated the population to number fewer than 50,000 individuals (A. Panjabi in litt. 2008), thus it is placed in the band 20,000-49,999 individuals here.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 27.6-45.5% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (56 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). However, losses outside Amazonia are judged to be likely to be lower (A. Lees in litt. 2011), so the species is therefore suspected to decline by 25-30% over three generations.

It occurs in uninterrupted expanses of lowland tropical forest (typically below 900 m but locally to 2,000 m), but will nest where high-grade forestry has been practised, and use forest patches within a pasture/forest mosaic for hunting (Bierregaard 1994a, Parker et al. 1996). Nests have been reported only 3 km apart in Panama and Guyana (Bierregaard 1994a).

Although still reasonably common in the Amazonian forests of Brazil and Peru (H. Lloyd in litt. 1999), it will only survive in the long term if the escalating rate of forest destruction in the region is brought under control and a network of inviolate reserves established (Malingreau and Tucker 1988, Bierregaard 1994a). Low overall population densities and slow reproductive rates make shooting the most significant threat over its entire range (Bierregaard 1994a, Bierregaard et al. 1995). It could perhaps survive in disturbed forests or even forest mosaics if its large size and boldness in the face of humans did not make it an irresistible target for hunters (Bierregaard 1994a, Bierregaard et al. 1995). It presumably also suffers from competition with humans for prey (Galetti et al. 1997b).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. Reintroductions have taken place in Belize and Panama (Matola 2004, Muela and Curti 2005). Conservation Actions Proposed
Work with local communities to reduce hunting. Stengthen network of protected areas to include core remaining areas of habitat, and establish a captive breeding population to support future reintroduction and supplementation efforts.  Clarify its precise ecological requirements and its ability to persist in fragmented and altered habitats.

Bell, C. 1998. Returning the Harpy Eagle. ZooNooz 71: 8-13.

Bierregaard, R. O. 1994. Neotropical Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 52-205. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Chebez, J. C. 1994. Los que se van: especies argentinas en peligro. Albatros, Buenos Aires.

Chebez, J. C. 1995. Acerca de la distribución de la Harpia en Argentina. Nuestras Aves 31: 21-23.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Galetti, M.; Martuscelli, P.; Pizo, M. A.; Simão, I. 1997. Records of Harpy and Crested Eagles in the Brazilian Atlantic forest. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 117: 27-31.

Malingreau, J. -P.; Tucker, C. J. 1988. Large-scale deforestation in the southeastern Amazon basin of Brazil. Ambio 17: 49-55.

Matola, S. 2004. Harpy eagle restoration project. Belize Audubon Society Newsletter 36: 4-5.

Muela, A.; Curti, M. 2005. Harpy Eagle releases in Belize. Peregrine Fund Newsletter 36: 8-9.

Parker, T. A.; Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W. 1996. Ecological and distributional databases. In: Stotz, D.F.; Fitzpatrick, J.W.; Parker, T.A.; Moskovits, D.K. (ed.), Neotropical bird ecology and conservation, pp. 113-436. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Thiollay, J. -M. 1985. Birds of prey in French Guiana - a preliminary survey. Bulletin of the World Working Group on Birds of Prey 2: 11-5.

Vargas, J. deJ.; Whitacre, D.; Mosquera, R.; Albuquerque, J.; Piana, R.; Thiollay, J.-M.; Márquez, C.; Sánchez, J.E.; Lezama-López, M.; Midence, S.; Matola, S.; Aguilar, S.; Rettig, N.; Sanaiotti, T. 2006. Status and current distribution of the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) in Central and South America. Ornitologia Neotropical 17: 39-55.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Lloyd, H., Miller, B.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Harpia harpyja. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,600,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species