Crested Eagle, Morphnus guianensis

The Crested Eagle, (Morphnus guianensis), is a species of bird of prey found from Guatemala through Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, and Bolivia to north Argentina. In Brazil, this species has suffered greatly due to habitat destruction and is mostly found only in the Amazon basin in that region. In Ecuador it is mainly found in the Eastern Andean mountains. It is the only member of its genus Morphnus.

Its range often overlaps with the Harpy Eagle, which is likely a close relative. It is similar in appearance to the Harpy Eagle as well, though it is much smaller. The adult is 38 to 35 inches in length with a 55 to 70 inch wingspan. The male Crested Eagle weighs between 3.9 and 6.6 pounds. The female is larger and weighs up to 8 pounds.

The Crested Eagle avoids competition with its larger Harpy cousin by taking smaller prey. However, it is likely more of a predator of other birds than the Harpy, and would not have to aggressively compete for them. It also hunts small mammals such as capuchin monkeys and tamarins. Research has also shown that snakes and various other reptiles are also hunted by the Crested Eagle.

Image caption: Crested Eagle with an Emerald Tree Boa in its grasp. Credit: Alex Lee/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)