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NATURE: Jungle Eagle

Airs Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Close-up photo of a harpy 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.

Female harpy eagle in nest
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Above: Female harpy eagle in nest

Nine-month-old harpy juvenile watches the film crew.
Enlarge this image

Above: Nine-month-old harpy juvenile watches the film crew.

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.

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

This program originally aired in 2011.

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