Haast’s eagle was the largest eagle ever to have lived and the top predator of the time in its ecosystem. Its relatively short wings were designed for flapping flight and not for soaring, allowing 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 had been any bigger it would have had to rely on gliding. It preyed upon the large flightless birds of the time, including various species of moa. Haast's eagle relied upon these flightless birds for food, once they were hunted to extinction then Haast's eagle became extinct soon after.
Scientific name: Harpagornis moorei
The world's largest aerial predator ever, Haast's eagle struck fear into the hearts of the Maori.
A drama reconstruction of how, in centuries past, Maori people lived in fear of Haast's eagle. The part of the Haast's eagle is played by a trained harpy eagle.
The following habitats are found across the Haast's eagle distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.
Haast's Eagle (Harpagornis moorei) was a species of eagle that once lived on the South Island of New Zealand. The species was the largest eagle known to have existed. Its prey consisted mainly of moa, gigantic flightless birds that were unable to defend themselves from the striking force and speed of these eagles, which at times reached 80 km/h (50 mph). This eagle's massive size may have been an evolutionary response to the size of its prey, as both would have been much smaller when they first came to the island, and would have grown larger over time due to lack of competition (see island gigantism). Haast's Eagle became extinct around the year 1400, when its major food source, the moa, were hunted to extinction by Maori, and much of its dense-forest habitat was cleared.
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