Big Birds That People Could Confuse For Muppets

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

Harpy Eagle
Photo Credit: RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP via Getty Images

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

harpy
Photo Credit: Reddit / crg339
Photo Credit: Reddit / crg339

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

harpy
Photo Credit: ELMER MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: ELMER MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images

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

5th August 1947: A Harpy eagle is offered a dead rabbit for lunch
Photo Credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images

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

A trainer feeds Luigi, an adult male Harpy eagle
Photo Credit: ELMER MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: ELMER MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images

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

A Harpy Eagle
Photo Credit: Tim Chapman / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Tim Chapman / Getty Images

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

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) 'Panama', is seen at the Zoo Summit
Photo Credit: RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP via Getty Images

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

harpy
Photo Credit: RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP via Getty Images

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

harpy in tree
Photo Credit: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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

harpy and handler
Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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 Eagle, Harpia harpyja, is the largest, most powerful raptor in the Americas. They can have a wingspan of more than 7 feet.
Photo Credit: Jon G. Fuller/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Jon G. Fuller/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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

harpy eagle
Photo Credit: DeAgostini/Getty Images
Photo Credit: DeAgostini/Getty Images

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

A female Harpy eagle
Photo Credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images

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

harpy eagle headshot
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

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

A shoebill looks on in its enclosure at Pairi Daiza animal park
Photo Credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP via Getty Images

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

bec en sabot. Shoebill Balaeniceps rex,dans les marais de Banweuleu en Zambie
Photo Credit: Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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

shoebill
Photo Credit: Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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

Shoebill Jurong Bird Park Singapore.
Photo Credit: Andrew Woodley/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Andrew Woodley/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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.

Staying Still

shoebill flying
Photo Credit: Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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.

Strange Creatures

Harpy Eagle, Harpia harpyja, female at nest with six week old chick
Photo Credit: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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.