Haast’s eagle, New Zealand giant eagle - Largest Eagle ever

Eagle is one of the largest species of bird of prey. They prey consist of small mammals and bird up to as large as wolf in some case...

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Haast’s eagle, New Zealand giant eagle - Largest Eagle ever

Postby Tanin » Sat Jun 09, 2007 1:36 am

Guess what,

Previously I think that the harpy eagle is the largest and strongest of all eagle... however, when I read about Haast's eagle, definitely I am wrong...

Haast's eagle's wingspan is about 2.6 meter for a large female and weight approximately 10-13 kg :o

Here is the information from BBC site:
Haast’s eagle, New Zealand giant eagle
Harpagornis moorei

Haast’s eagle was the largest eagle ever to have lived and is the only eagle in the world ever to have been top predator of its ecosystem

Physical Description
Haast’s eagle was a large eagle with a low, narrow skull and an elongated beak. The males were smaller than the females. It had relatively short wings for its size: these were designed for flapping flight not for soaring. Its wing structure also helped it to catch and subdue prey as large as, or larger than, the eagle itself, and was better suited for fast, manoeuvrable flight in dense forest. Because of its large size, Haast’s eagle was approaching the upper limit of size for flapping flight – if it got any bigger it would have had to rely on gliding. Its leg bones were better suited for perching or for gripping prey than for walking about on the ground. The structure of the foot and length of the talons meant that Haast’s eagle could apply much greater force with its feet than other birds of prey. The talons could stab several centimetres into flesh, and often punctured bones as well.

Diet
It preyed upon flightless birds, including various species of moa. Palaeontologists believe that its prey ranged in size from 1kg to over 200kg in weight - the latter being the giant moa (Dinornis giganteus). The most common prey was likely the flightless Finsch’s duck (Euryanas finschi), now extinct. As New Zealand lacked any terrestrial mammals, the Haast’s eagle was top predator.

Behaviour
The Haast’s eagle is unusual, because of the sheer size of many of its prey. Most eagles kill animals that are less than their own body weight. This is because they have to be able to fly while carrying their kill. As there were no terrestrial predators bigger than a tuatara (a reptile about 500g-1kg in weight) in New Zealand, the Haast’s eagle only had to defend its meal from other eagles, and thus didn’t have to carry it to a safe place to eat it. The eagle attacked a variety of flightless birds found in New Zealand including the now extinct moas. It would launch itself from a high perch onto its prey and strike at the moa’s side. Its large talons grasped the hindquarters of the moa, and killed it by inflicting deep crushing wounds that caused massive internal bleeding. The moa perished from shock or blood loss. Over a dozen fossil moa have been found with gashes and punctures from eagle claws on their pelvis. Fossil moa bones show us how the eagle used its beak after it had caught its prey: it used the elongated beak to open up the carcass and reach inside to grab mouthfuls of organs such as the kidneys. When people arrived in New Zealand, the eagle may have mistaken them for moa and thus attacked and eaten them.

History
The Haast’s eagle was found all over South Island during the Pleistocene, but was mostly restricted to the south and east of South Island after the end of the Ice Age. The arrival of people in New Zealand had unfortunate consequences for the eagle: by 1400 AD, most of the forest habitat it used had been cleared by fire, and most of the large flightless birds that it ate had been hunted to extinction. The Haast’s eagle was likely extinct by 1400 AD, although there are a few 19th century accounts of sightings of very large birds of prey in mountainous areas.
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Postby Java Falconer » Sat Jun 09, 2007 11:45 am

Wow, cool!!!

But extinct already... :cry:
"An innate falconer"

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Postby Tanin » Sat Jun 09, 2007 12:47 pm

Chinchilla Silver wrote:Wow, cool!!!

But extinct already... :cry:


Yeah... too bad... if some falconer know about them before they extinct, surely breeding program will be in place and they will survive.

here is their photo:

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Postby Tanin » Sat Jun 09, 2007 11:26 pm

Info about haast eagle from nzbird.com

Although there were no mammalian predators in New Zealand before the advent of Homo sapiens, there were avian predators, some of which were quite extraordinary and would be considered mythical if we did not have the remains to prove their existence. One of these was the Haast eagle, the largest, most powerful, eagle the world has known, the females weighing as much as 13 kilograms and with wings spanning almost three metres. As herbivores, such as the Moa, evolved large body size, the eagle did too, allowing it to exploit a food source reserved in other lands for the great cats. Indeed the Haast eagle had talons comparable to a tiger’s and was capable of killing a human.

The first discovered bones of this species were found in 1871 during excavation of Moa bones at Glenmark swamp in Canterbury. They were described in 1872 by Dr Julius von Haast, first director of the Canterbury Museum, who named the bird after George Moore, owner of Glenmark Station on which so many sub fossil bird bones were found.

Haast described two species of eagle, one on the basis of small bones which are now believed to represent the male. Only three complete skeletons have been found: two found late last century are in the Otago Museum in New Zealand and the Natural History Museum in London: the third, found in a cave near Nelson in 1989, is held by the National Museum in Wellington.

The bones of this giant eagle are nowhere common but have been found widely in the South Island and southern half of the North Island, usually along with Moa bones in swamps and caves. However, Trevor Worthy asserts that the eagle has never been found in the North island and that all records are based on misidentifications.

The youngest eagle bones found may be only 500 years old indicating that eagles and humans co-existed. Charlie Douglas in the bird section of his book describes shooting something in the late 1800s that was probably two eagles.

Research by Dr. Richard Holdaway on the skeletal remains of the birds suggests that the New Zealand eagle was a forest eagle that could not soar but probably hunted like other forest eagles by perching high on a branch until a suitable prey came within range and then diving on it at speeds of up to 80 kilometers an hour. The impact, which could knock even the largest Moa off its feet, was cushioned by powerful legs. The brutal talons were then used to crush and pierce the neck and skull of the immobilised prey. The eagle and its mate could remain near the kill for several days. Like all eagles the Haast also ate carrion and preyed on trapped animals when these were available.

With a life span approaching 20 years, the eagles occupied, in pairs, territories up to several hundred square kilometers. They were found mainly in the drier eastern forest during the Holocene but were more widespread in the scattered forest and scrublands of the late Otiran Glaciations 20,000 – 14,000 years ago.

The Maori seemed to have called the bird Te Pouakai or Te Hokioi. Murdoch Riley in his book on Maori bird lore says that most authorities favour Te Hokioi. Other authorities say that the bird was a very large hawk that lived on the tops of mountains, another that it stayed always in the sky and was a descendant of the star Rehua. It was regarded as the ancestor of ceremonial kites, which generally took the form of birds. Elsdon Best records that it was a legendary bird, reputed to carry off and devour men, women and children. The birds were also depicted in rock drawings.

The Haast eagle succumbed to the environmental damage resulting from Polynesian colonisation. It became extinct probably several hundred years ago, along with the Moa, its main food source. Trevor Worthy says that Maori did kill them as their bones have been found in middens and fashioned into tools.
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Postby Tanin » Sat Jun 09, 2007 11:28 pm

This is what the maori said about them:

This bird, the Hokioi, was seen by our ancestors. We (of the present day) have not seen it — that bird has disappeared now–a–days. The statement of our ancestor was that it was a powerful bird, a very powerful bird. It was a very large hawk. Its resting place was on the top of mountains; it did not rest on the plains. On the days in which it was on the wing our ancestors saw it; it was not seen every day as its abiding place was on the mountains. Its colour was red and black and white. It was a bird of (black) feathers, tinged with yellow and green; it had a bunch of red feathers on top of its head. It was a large bird, as large as a Moa. Its rival was the hawk. The hawk said it could reach the heavens; the hokioi said it could reach the heavens; there was contention between them. The hokioi said to the hawk, “what shall be your sign?” The hawk replied, “kei” (the peculiar cry of the hawk). Then the hawk asked, “what is to be your sign?” The hokioi replied, “hokioi–hokioi–hu–u.” These were there words. They then flew and approached the heavens. The winds and the clouds came. The hawk called out “kei” and descended, it could go no further on account of the winds and the clouds, but the hokioi disappeared into the heavens.

“Kei” is the cry of the hawk. “Hokioi–hokioi” is the cry of the hokioi. “Hu–u” is the noise caused by the wings of the hokioi. It was recognized by the noise of its wings when it descends to earth.

The bird was also depicted in rock drawings.
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Postby Tanin » Sat Jun 09, 2007 11:34 pm

Info from wiki:

Female Haast's Eagles weighed 10 to 15 kg (22 to 33 lb), and males weighed 9 to 10 kg (20 to 22 lb). They had a wingspan of roughly 2.6 to 3 m (8 to 10 ft) at most, which was short for a bird of the eagle's weight (the largest Golden Eagles and Steller's Sea Eagles may have wings of almost the same width), but aided them when hunting in the dense forests of New Zealand. Haast's Eagle is sometimes portrayed as evolving towards flightlessness, but this is not so; rather, it represents a departure from its ancestors' mode of soaring flight and towards higher wing loading and manoeuverability. The strong legs and massive flight muscles would have enabled the birds to take off with a jumping start from the ground, despite their great weight. The tail was almost certainly long (up to 50 cm (20 inches), in female specimens) and very broad, further increasing manoeuverability and providing additional lift.[2] Total length was perhaps up to 140 cm (4.5 ft) in females, with a standing height of around 90 cm (about 3 ft) tall or even slightly more.

Haast's Eagle preyed on large, flightless bird species, including the moa which was up to 15 times its weight.[2] It attacked at speeds up to 80 km per hour (50 mph), often seizing its prey's pelvis with the talons of one foot and killing with a blow to the head or neck with the other. Its large beak was used to rip into the internal organs and death was induced by blood loss. In the absence of other large predators or scavengers, a Haast's Eagle could have easily monopolised a single large kill over a number of days.

Early human settlers in New Zealand (the Māori arrived about 1,000 years ago) also preyed heavily on large flightless birds including all moa species, eventually hunting them to extinction. This casued the Haast's Eagle to became extinct around 1500 when the last of its food sources dwindled out. It may also itself have been hunted by humans: a large, fast bird of prey that specialised in hunting large bipeds may have been perceived as a threat by Māori — for a creature that could kill a moa weighing 180 kg (400 lb), an adult human may have been a viable prey alternative.[3]
Comparitive morphology of Haast's Eagle with its closest living relative the Little Eagle.
Comparitive morphology of Haast's Eagle with its closest living relative the Little Eagle.

A noted explorer, Charles Douglas, claims in his journals that he had an encounter with two raptors of immense size in Landsborough River valley (probably in the 1870s), and shot and ate them.[4] These birds might have been a last remnant of the species, but this is very unlikely because there had not been suitable prey for a population of Haast's Eagle to maintain itself for about half a millennium at that time and 19th century Māori lore was quite adamant that the pouakai was a bird not seen in living memory. Still, Douglas' observations on wildlife are generally trustworthy; a more probable explanation, given that the alleged three-metre wingspan of Douglas' birds is unlikely to have been more than a rough estimate, is that the birds were Eyles' Harriers. This was the largest known harrier (the size of a small eagle) — and a generalist predator — and although it is also assumed to have gone extinct in prehistoric times, its dietary habits alone make it a more likely candidate for late survival.

Until recent human colonisation, the only terrestrial mammals found on New Zealand were three species of bat, one of which has recently become extinct. Free from mammalian competition and predatory threat, birds occupied or dominated all major niches in the New Zealand animal ecology. Moa were grazers — functionally similar to deer or cattle elsewhere — and Haast's Eagle hunters, filling the same niche as top-niche mammalian predators such as tigers or brown bears.

DNA analysis has shown that this raptor is most closely related to the much smaller Little Eagle as well as the Booted Eagle (both recently reclassified as belonging to the genus Aquila.[5]) and not, as previously thought, to the large Wedge-tailed Eagle[6] Thus, Harpagornis moorei may be reclassified as Aquila moorei, pending confirmation. H. moorei may have diverged from these smaller eagles as recently as 700,000 to 1.8 million years ago. Its increase in weight by 10 to 15 times over that period is the greatest and fastest evolutionary increase in weight of any known vertebrate. This was made possible in part by the presence of large prey and the absence of competition from other large predators.

Haast's Eagle was first classified by Julius von Haast, who named it Harpagornis moorei after George Henry Moore, the owner of the Glenmark Estate where bones of the bird had been found.
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