There are two birds that exist in nature that are so big that people would be excused for thinking that they might be people in bird costumes. That's right, these are real-life Big Birds. One of these birds even looks like a Jim Henson puppet.
Keep reading to see the largest eagle in the world (that kind of looks like a person in cosplay) and an African stork with a very interesting face. These birds are really something to behold.
An Interesting Face
This is a harpy eagle. It's quite a strange-looking bird. The harpy eagle is the largest and most powerful raptor that can be found in the world. It's also the largest eagle in the world.
As Big As A Person
The harpy eagle is a massive bird. Female harpy eagles can weigh up to 20 pounds and measure up to three and a half feet in length. Male harpy eagles are a bit smaller than their female counterparts.
An Endangered Species
These birds are extremely endangered. That's because their natural habitat in Central America is being destroyed. Very few of these birds exist in the wild, and even fewer exist in captivity.
How It Got Its Name
The harpy eagle was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae in 1758 as Vultur harpyja, after the mythological beast known as the harpy. Harpies in Greek mythology are birds with the heads of maidens.
A Fitting Name
It makes sense that these birds were called harpy eagles. They do look kind of like they're inhabited by humans. They're the size of a school-age child and they kind of look like a person wearing a costume.
What They Look Like
The top side of the harpy eagle is covered with slate-black feathers, and the underside is mostly white. This helps them camouflage against the sky when they're flying and the trees when they're on the ground.
The Largest Bird In Central America
The harpy eagle could be the largest bird native to Central America. There are some large water birds there that come close, such as American white pelicans and jabirus, but these birds have slightly lower body masses.
A Small Wingspan
The harpy's wingspan is relatively small compared to the size of its body. Their wings are quite broad, though. This feature helps harpies maneuver themselves through densely forested areas in their native habitats.
Smaller Wings Than Other Eagles
Even though the harpy eagle is the biggest of all the eagles, other eagles who live in less densely forested areas have larger wingspans. The Haast's eagle, for instance, has a much larger wingspan.
What They Sound Like
When they're not tending to a nest, harpies are pretty quiet. They give out these wispy screeches when they do decide to get vocal. The female's call is a bit lower while she's incubating eggs.
Their Incredible Talons
Harpy eagles have the largest talons of any living eagle, and they can lift prey that's as heavy as they are. This allows them to snatch a live sloth from tree branches.
Predators, Not Prey
Being so big, these eagles are at the top of the food chain. Very few animals prey on these eagles, although jaguars have been known to attack harpy eagle babies.
They Will Eat Monkeys
Harpy eagles enjoy a rich diet of sloths and monkeys. Some of the monkeys they prey on include capuchin monkeys, saki monkeys, howler monkeys, titi monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and spider monkeys.
They Even Eat Livestock
On rare occasions, harpy eagles have been known to prey on livestock including pigs and sheep. That doesn't happen too often, though. Most of the time, these birds stay away from farmland.
The Magnificent Shoebill
This is the shoebill. It's another big bird that even kind of looks like a Jim Henson character. We could see this large bird joining the cast of The Muppets.
How It Got Its Name
The shoebill is so named because of its large bill that kind of looks like a wooden shoe. From this angle, its bill does sort of look like a clog.
Where It Lives
The shoebill makes its home in freshwater swamps across central tropical Africa, from southern Sudan and South Sudan through parts of eastern Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, western Tanzania, and northern Zambia.
How They Hunt
The shoebill likes to live in areas with poorly oxygenated water. This means that fish have to come to the surface of the water more often, making them easier for the shoebill to catch.
Many people have described the shoebill as "statue-like." This is because this bird likes to stand still for long periods of time. They only really move when they need to find a new place to fish.
The world is full of strange and beautiful creatures like the harpy eagle and the shoebill stork. Both of these creatures suffer when we aren't kind to the environment. Let's do our part to make the world a greener place.