Harpia harpyja 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Accipitriformes Accipitridae

Scientific Name: Harpia harpyja (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Harpy Eagle, American Harpy Eagle
Spanish Aguila Arpía, Aguila Harpía, Arpía, Arpía Mayor, Harpía
Taxonomic Source(s): SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Lloyd, H., Miller, B., Lees, A., Muñiz-López, R. & Phillips, R.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Capper, D., Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A., Wheatley, H.
This species is classified as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be declining moderately rapidly owing to hunting and habitat loss.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: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).

Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Belize; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:17600000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):900
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: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.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: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).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):18.5
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): 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 [top]

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.

Amended [top]

Amended reason: Edits to trend estimates and associated fields.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.3. Persecution/control
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology

Bibliography [top]

Álvarez-Cordero, E. 1996. Biology and Conservation of the Harpy Eagle in Venezuela and Panama. PhD. thesis. University of Florida.

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. and Butchart, S.H.M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook 48(1): 7-28.

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.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2017).

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-3. Available at: (Accessed: 5 December 2017).

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.

Moura, N. G., Lees, A. C., Aleixo, A., Barlow, J., Dantas, S. D., Ferreira, J., Lima, M. D. F. C., Gardner, T. A. 2014. Two Hundred Years of Local Avian Extinctions in Eastern Amazonia. Conservation Biology 28(5): 1523–1739.

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

Muñiz-López, R. 2008. Revisión de la situación del águila Harpía Harpia harpyja en Ecuador. Cotinga 29: 42-47.

Muñiz-López R. 2016. Biología y conservación del águila harpía (Harpia harpyja) en Ecuador. Tesis doctoral. Universidad de Alicante.

Parker, T.A., Stotz, D.F. and Fitzpatrick, J.W. 1996. Ecological and distributional databases. In: Stotz, D.F., Fitzpatrick, J.W., Parker, T.A. and Moskovits, D.K. (eds), 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.

Trinca, C. T.; Ferrari, S. F.; Lees, A. C. 2008. Curiosity killed the bird: arbitrary hunting of Harpy Eagles Harpia harpyja on an agricultural frontier in southern Brazilian Amazonia. Cotinga: 12-15.

Vargas González, J.J. & Vargas, H. 2011. Nesting density of Harpy eagles in Darien with population size estimates for Panama. J. Raptor Res. 45(3): 199-210.

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.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Harpia harpyja (amended version of 2017 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22695998A117357127. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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