The Monkey-Eating Eagle of the Orinoco

The Monkey-Eating Eagle of the OrinocoThe harpy eagle is the most powerful bird of prey in the world, plucking monkeys from the branches of the jungle canopy.

Rare and elusive, they are seldom seen, but with the discovery of a harpy nest in the remote Orinoco rainforest of Venezuela, wildlife film-maker Fergus Beeley has a unique opportunity to follow the life of a chick from birth to adulthood.

Fergus ascends high into the canopy to reveal a stunning world of colour and sound, following the trials of the harpy eagle's newly hatched chick as it grows up.

Fergus becomes just another member of the dazzling community of birds and animals surrounding the harpy nest and develops an unexpectedly close bond with the chick.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 58 minutes)

Ratings: 7.68/10 from 19 users.

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31 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Waldo

    What a beautiful majestic creature, not to mention deadly. I have heard stories of them stealing youngsters from indigenous peoples. I don't know that they are neccessarily true, but I do know scientist believe a hominid skull they found at one point showed signs of being predated by a harpy eagle. Can you imagine the terror of being carried away by such a thing and then being eaten alive, or the fear and sorrow of the parent that had to watch their youngster being taken in such a way? The feeling of sheer helplessness and extreme sorrow must have been overwhelming.

  2. dib

    @ Waldo
    Wo man, relax with the terror and fear. This is nature. Humans don't sit on a pedestal where we can't be touched. These eagles arn't human eaters, but food is food. Its probably a very rare thing where eagle takes away a human baby. Other then that, amazing film. Love eagles.

  3. Waldo

    @ dib

    Not trying to scare anyone, just repeating what I had read and remarking about how wild it must have been. Of course humans are not on a pedestal, and I never implied they were. Don't try and put words or ideas in my mouth. I open my statement talking about the majesty and beauty of this creature, how you got what you did out of my post is beyond me. I live on a self sustaining farm that borders a huge wildlife preserve. I participate in the raising and return to the wild of the red and blue fox population. I have also raised and returned to the wild four white tail deer, one doe and three bucks. Part of the beauty of wild animals is the power they possess. We should learn everything about creatures and not paint them up to be some fairytale, wild animals are not what you see in Disney movies. Eagles can be very dangerous animals and should be respected and revered from afar, unless you are trained to do otherwise.

  4. MIchael22541

    Thank you for a great Xmast present!!! in the last few days you have giving me so much to watch.

  5. Charles B.

    Waldo: I really doubt any human has ever been taken by one of these eagles. Humans are so deadly that any thing that even bothers them in the slightest we just kill and kill and kill until they're extinct. If these rare eagles were baby-killers, there's no place on earth they could hide from the people that would have killed every last one I'm pretty sure. I really bothers me how we have this view of native peoples world-wide that love and respect nature, but in reality, they kill and eat or just kill even the rarest of wildlife without even an ounce of remorse, or so it seems.

    Anyway, I'm crabby tonight. If it were my baby being carried away by a big bird, I'd probably feel differently, but I'm quite sure that people are the most deadly force on the planet. If I didn't believe in God and the eteranal soul of people being exceedingly valuable, I'd not like us very much for what we've done to our planet.

    Eagles are one of my all-time favorite animals, by the way.

  6. riley

    one interesting dimension of the doc was the care the parent eagles took to bring in capuchins from afar, leaving the nearby populations un-touched, when they probably could have taken howlers more easily (much larger meals).

    the implication is that - the young eagle must first start with capuchins - thus, it is given that as diet, and left an un-wary population to train on.

    the narrator was a bit of a nanny-boy, but - the content was there to see - a superb predator species operating within a specialized niche. the harpies do, as he noted, have an uncanny dino look about them.

    it's not a coincidence that predator species are usually the most interesting. they are invariably the most intelligent sorts of animals. grazers must watch & run, but catchers must watch, run & catch. this doc nicely points out the parental care & planning, the individual training required for successful predation, which is usually the case for top predators.

  7. Mo Akoush

    Excellent documentary!

  8. rohan

    Wow such a fascinating documentary. This is my favorite website in the world.

  9. Leonardo

    I have handled some of these animals, just slightly more of a handful than an ordinary eagle. In Brazil we have some private owners of rescue homes for injured or otherwise impossible to rehabilitate specimens which is where you can handle these. They wont attack adults (under normal conditions), but they will kill children and in I have seen with my own eyes a couple of them go nuts in their cage over a baby being held by its mother.

  10. Tim Watson

    Very cool

  11. boris

    super quality... great animal, another evidence that animals learn, feel and think, just like us

  12. Tiercel

    I don't think humans are likely to figure as prey for these birds. They take their prey from the canopy & just below. where they take their prey in surprise attacks, on the pass. That way they still have the height & momentum to generate lift, to carry it away. They're not predators of the forest floor. Humans are not often seen up in the forest canopy.

  13. Dom

    Quite interesting and impressive stuff, but I wasn't overly keen on the narration. Just a personal preference.
    Also there tends to be a pattern in natural history documentaries of trying to build up suspense about whether the animal being filmed will survive or not. I can kind of understand why they do this but it gets a bit repetitive.

  14. Myk

    Great doc. Good quality. Narrator really likes the chick. . . dare i say too much? lol Good watch

  15. futurecreature

    Great shots, beautiful score, terribly narrated. Seems like this guy only wanted to showcase his special bond, rather then get into any real detail about those completely amazing eagles.

  16. Gordon Adams

    poor documentary...the narration is not well researched. No background info, historical info, lifehistory, ecological context..just observation and speculation..nice shots though

  17. JackT

    What is meant by "just like us"? They have these capacities, yes, but they don't feel and think like human processes of thinking and feeling, which is wickedly complex and largely dysfunctional.

    Learning, I couldn't say, though.

  18. melloyeyo

    Yes, he could offer more and better information. Is a documentary about filming a documentary. His obsession with "his chick" reminds me of the Grizzly Man a lot. However those birds are impressive.

  19. Uttara Jindal

    Beautifully captured. Its a pleasure to be able to view these documentaries online.

  20. ForeverDove

    The less we see and know about them the better off and safer they are, providing humans dont tear down their habitat...

  21. ForeverDove

    i look forward to the documentary that you are going to produce on them... lets see if you can do better?

  22. Goran Catic

    great doc, thank you!

  23. Paul Graham Stanley

    We went to the same tree and the same nest - three years or so later! A new chick is about to be born! Brilliant!!

  24. Alexander Seguine

    Very interesting. You could really see the chick studying the animals of the forest. Didn't have an issue with the narration either. Maybe it wasn't "scientific" narration but in reality the film was about the wonder and majesty of the eagle, not the scientific facts about it.

  25. Tad Dinsmore

    i love these eagles! I thought the documentary was great, and especially loved the climbing bits and canopy views!! I would gladly leave my job climbing as an arborist for a project such as this... How does one get a job like this(I would gladly volunteer)? What a wonderful view of the jungle and all it's fantastic inhabitants. If anyone is planning a trip back here, I would love to travel in your suitcase. I hope there will be a similar documentary about the Phillippean eagle!

  26. madscirat

    Worst narration in a wildlife documentary Ever. No one cares about you, we tuned in to see Harpy Eagles not the story of your life and the contrived reasoning behind your failure to obtain any predation footage. Next time either find someone who wants to talk about the subject species or title the documentary accurately to reflect its focus. Dan and the Harpy Eagle. Adventures of Wildlife Filmmaker, Costarring Harpy Eagle.

  27. Patrick Neil Brennan

    Well said.

  28. Michael Laudij

    OMG i can't believe SO MANY of you commented on the poor narration, I started watching only mildly interested in the subject matter... grimacing each time he rambled on and on... I couldn't change the station though, the narrator was so hypnotically BAD.

  29. Pomegrante Bullets

    The problem was, it wasn't even about the unscientific facts. The narrator was just ranting on and on about his personal concerns and thoughts. It was HIS chick, not even the crew's. The way he narrated was like a creepy guy with binoculars who is overprotective about the kid who lives down the street. It just took away from the documentary. He would have been more contributing if he was discussing what shade of green the leaves were.

  30. Keith

    This guy loves himself so much he believes all the animals around him are his....and no sorry they do not belong to you so stop saying they are yours.

  31. John Techwriter

    If you're into apex predators, this BBC documentary is well worth watching. Its featured subject is a raptor so majestic in its rainforest canopy environment, it's breathtaking.

    The narrator's familiar speaking style is common among Brit nature docs, probably originated by David Attenborough, and I don't have a problem with it.

    I do have a problem with the video quality. Surely it must have been filmed in HD, but the low resolution version provided by TopDocs (probably to save bandwidth) is extremely disappointing. Spectacular scenes of these huge birds flying in the restricted space of the canopy are reduced to fuzzy shades of green.

    Still, overall, it's worth a look. Along with this unique predator we get to see one of the most exotic landscapes in nature, the tropical rain forest -- itself on the list of endangered species.

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