Jungle Eagle

Harpy eagles are the most powerful birds of prey in the world. Standing three feet tall, with a six-foot wingspan and razor-sharp talons the size of bear claws, these birds are the heavyweight hunters of the South American rainforest. They are the top predators in the jungle canopy, feeding regularly on tree-dwelling mammals like monkeys and sloths. But scientists know very little about harpy eagles because their numbers are few and their habitat is large. Hidden in the branches of the canopy, they are rarely seen, let alone filmed.

After locating a nest 130 feet above ground in an enormous Ceiba tree, wildlife filmmaker Fergus Beeley and his team of cameramen install a “nest cam” to monitor a harpy family. Over the course of a year, they struggle to document the lives of these elusive birds in Venezuela’s Orinoco River jungle. The team comes dangerously close to the notoriously aggressive birds, risking serious injury for the chance to gain new insight into these Jurassic-like creatures.

NATURE enters the secret world of the harpy, and provides a treasure trove of new information about this majestic species.

  • Nicole


  • Jeanie

    I recall in the early 90s hearing from an ornithologies at San Diego Zoo that they successfully hatched a baby Harpy’s Eagle and caring for it 24 hours a day. As close as I have gotten to one!

    Raptor crazed…

  • William

    We discover a Nest in the rainforest in Belize and it was amazing to monitor the nest,Chick and parents for almost a year.Lots of incredible things happen at the nest.

    Amazing Birds.

  • Marc Johnson

    I have now seen 5 separate Harpy eagles on our travels through Guyana. The Kanuku mountain range in the center of the country is quite possibly where the highest concentration of Harpy eagles in all of South America can be found. We have seen two juveniles on the nest as well. Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NNMj3W_kmI and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S-4E6BTCHA

    We escort one trip a year, the next one is in March 2012

    Marc Johnson
    Foster Parrots Ltd

  • Susan

    The Peregrine Fund has been studying Harpy Eagles in the wild and breeding them in captivity and releasing them to the wild in Panama for more than a decade. We have found that human persecution (mainly shooting) is the greatest immediate threat to Harpy Eagles, though loss of forest habitat is the ultimate problem. For more information, go to http://www.peregrinefund.org/projects/harpy-eagle

  • Jack

    We would like to nominate this show for the absolute dumbest narration ever. The birds are so wonderful, the filmmaker so silly.

  • Vena

    My goodness….. this puts the “awe” in awesome.

  • amy

    Fascinating…anyone know how to obtain the coordinates for the nest?

  • Wilson

    This was one of the most amazing nature films I have seen. I commend the diligence and dedication that went into making this film. These raptors are beyond my imagination!! I treasure the educational experience. Thank you.

  • Michelle T

    Wow. These birds are beautiful and fantastic. Talk about a Mom protecting her young! Thanks :)

  • Jeff

    This shows inspires us to be better. It humbles us and demonstrates that motherhood is not that different in all species.

  • Jaime

    This was indeed a beautiful film. However, I’ve been trying in vain to determine the bird call we keep hearing in the background. It’s such a common bird call of the rainforest. I seem to hear it every time I see a scene filmed in the amazon rainforest. I just can’t figure out the bird making the call. It sounds a lot like the whistle a person makes when they see a beautiful woman or man. Anyone know?

  • Heuristiks

    The narration was quite literary and balanced imagery, language and purpose: highly descriptive, smooth and conversational like reading Kipling or Lewis Carrol. Breeley, a film maker, drew us into a world heretofore never seen, as if he were a competent naturalist like naturalist John Kieran of the Bronx, New York: The only curator of The Museum of Natural History without a Phd. They intimately blend nature, science, art, and media. It”s a great tool exemplifying the skills of parents under the many risks. But the fact that the young harpy was left by its parent to learn and do reconnaissance of its domain for a year is a model for children and others and teaches that life rquires diligence and learning: a form of adaptive intelligence just like Mr. Breeley who chanced photographing the relatively unknown. I shall buy the CD and use it in school and my relatives.

  • Pintos

    The most amazing and close up shots !! Amazing beautiful birds and more land conservation is needed to ensure their survival in the future. Their black eyes, without any whites, is just piercing. I would like to touch the baby and the crown feathers on their head!! Most be fluffy. I thought the narration was excellent.

  • John
  • Doz

    How can you not be amazed by the beauty of these fantastic creatures. I watched with my wife and 10 year old who were as glued to the TV as I was. I continue to be surprised with the world we live in, and am so grateful that we have an outlet like public television to help us be right in the middle of the action. BRAVO!!!!!!!

  • Tina

    Jaime, do you maybe refer to the Screaming Piha, Lipaugus vociferans? Here is a video which shows the bird as it sings/screams. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8tvZvQlg4c

  • Pete

    I only wish it would be possible to follow the harpy eagles on their hunts throughout the forest. It must be incredibly dramatic. Not only are they hunting in an around the rain forest canopy, they’re also hunting prey that is intelligent and organized (howler monkeys and other monkey species). But certainly I undertand the difficulty of such an endeavor. It was a great show!

  • christina neumeyer

    it was riveting television. I want to buy the DVD.

  • Mel

    What a fantastic Video. Thanks for showing this program before the harpy eagles become a thing of the past.

  • vic

    eagles are amazing and powerfull

  • Jaime

    Tina, yes! Thank you!

  • cavm

    Thoroughly enjoyed this film– the pace, photography, narration, music, and of course the birds. Some other nature films have lost their way with noise and flash– not this one.

  • jaybird

    The film was good entertainment. I learned nothing scientific about the Harpy Eagle. The film was overly narrated full of shallow reality TV-like commentary, and the narrator/film-maker exceedingly self-centered. Really, and “evil” female eagle? Three days of rain in the rain forest, if the chick dies my film is a bust? Great film footage though. I look forward to more intelligent Nature programming and less edutainment.

  • Ken Oliver

    What an awesome episode ! I Love nature and I can’t get over how majestic eagles are !!!

  • Glenn

    http://www.peregrinefund.org/ed-bird/10 Here’s Luigi the Harpy Eagle at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho

  • Lynn

    I love Eagles, maybe because they have endured so much from us and were able to come back from the brink of extinction. We almost killed them off entirely, first because they were seen as horrible scavengers and killed just because. And then with the introduction of DDT pesticides, which made the egg shells of the Eagles so thin that they would break open before the chick was fully formed inside. Thankfully Washington was finally persuaded to stop the use of DDT (against the lobbying that wanted it to continue) and now the Eagle is back! I loved this film, not so much the narration. It almost seemed like this guy wanted this film to be more about himself with all the comments about the Eagles’ attention to him. The filmmakers disbelief at how much the chick had grown in 2 months when he had said he filmed wildlife and birds for 20 some years. Simple research would have told him how fast they grow and they lost alot of filming the chick and parents in those 8 weeks they stayed away. Still, any nature film about Eagles is better than none at all..:)

  • Joel

    If I send a weather balloon up, will Harpy destroy it?
    Harpy eagles, Y U No in Illinois?

  • Slater

    I agree with Jack. It was like a string of car commercials one after the other. I couldn’t finish watching last night, it was so bad. But I’m going to try and finish watching tonight. Because, despite the narrator’s insistence that “his” project bird is “the eagle!” or whatever nonsense, it probably is an interesting creature, one worth our reverence. I believe Strunk and White called advertisement talk “the language of mutiliation.” C’mon NOVA, you can do better. Are you trying to turn public TV into commercial TV?

  • jessica

    Awesome show tonight, I now have a new bird to research.

  • Basang Sisiw

    Just finished watching this film on PBS.ORG TV channel (24 Apr 2013). The subject reminds me of its thriving relatives in the Philippines. It was locally called The Monkey Eating Eagle. Now it’s the landmark (if you will) of the country. It is named Philippine Eagle.

  • AnimalLover

    :D cool i love the harpy eagle… huge claws O3O but beautiful feathers amazing how animals survive out there.

  • SCB

    Very interesting subject, the Harpy Eagle. However the narrator is far to self-absorbed. His constant self references and incessant use of the pronoun “I” detracts from the episode.

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