Harpy Eagle Harpia harpyja


Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be declining moderately rapidly owing to hunting and habitat loss.

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 25-29% over three generations.

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).


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; Álvarez-Cordero 1996, Muñiz-López 2016). Nests have been reported only 3 km apart in Panama and Guyana (Bierregaard 1994a).


Although still reasonably common in the Amazonian forests of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil (Álvarez-Cordero 1996, Vargas et al. 2006, Muñiz-Lopez 2008), it will only survive in the long term if the escalating rates of forest loss, fragmentation and degradation in the region is brought under control and a network of inviolate reserves established (Malingreau and Tucker 1988, Bierregaard 1994a, A. Lees in litt. 2016). Low overall population densities and slow reproductive rates make shooting the most significant threat over its entire range (Bierregaard 1994a, Bierregaard et al. 1995, Vargas et al. 2006, Muñiz López 2016). 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, Álvarez Cordero 1996, Muñiz-López 2016). It presumably also suffers from competition with humans for prey (Galetti et al. 1997b, Muñiz-López 2016). Predation of small livestock leading to human-wildlife competition may be a very significant source of mortality (Trinca et al. 1998). Hunting and loss of large emergent trees through selective logging have contributed to its local extinction along deforestation frontiers (Moura et al. 2014).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. Reintroductions have taken place in Belize and Panama (Matola 2004, Muela and Curti 2005). In Ecuador a programme is underway to research the species's status, ecology, movements and threats.

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.


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

Lees, A., Phillips, R., Muñiz-López, R., Lloyd, H., Miller, B.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Harpia harpyja. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/08/2020.