, Haast's eagle was first described by Julius von Haast in 1871 from remains discovered by the Canterbury Museum taxidermist, Frederick Richardson Fuller, in a former marsh. University of Otago professor Philip Seddon suggests a few things to consider before bringing Haast’s eagle back from the grave.
Then check out the list of references below and visit us at the Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre in Rotorua to hear about these magnificent eagles and learn about them from our expert staff. These attributes would have made it very prone to the dramatic changes brought about by the arrival of humans, such as the clearing of bush which not only reduced the available habitat for Haast’s eagle but most significantly reduced the amount of available prey. “If something has been missing from an area only for a short time and we know about its ecology, it’s a lot more straight-forward than de-extincting something like a moa,” says Seddon.
 The genus name was from the Greek "harpax", meaning "grappling hook", and "ornis", meaning "bird".
â¢ Worthy, T. H., and Holdaway R. N. 2002. They would also have preyed upon other flightless birds, particularly Aptornis, Weka, Takahe, flightless geese and ducks.
 The loss of its primary prey caused the Haast's eagle to become extinct at about the same time..
Sadly the colour of its plumage is pure speculation. Until recent human colonisation that introduced rodents and cats, the only placental land mammals found on the islands of New Zealand were three species of bat. In length and weight, Haast's eagle was even larger than the largest living vultures. , DNA analysis later showed that this bird is related most closely to the much smaller little eagle as well as the booted eagle and not, as previously thought, to the large wedge-tailed eagle.  Due to the absence of other large predators or kleptoparasites, a Haast's eagle could easily have monopolised a single large kill over a number of days.. There have been fanciful reconstructions giving the bird a crest and colourful plumage similar to the ornate hawk eagle Spizaetus ornatus which like many tropical birds is more brightly coloured than temperate forms. , The strong legs and massive flight muscles of these eagles would have enabled the birds to take off with a jumping start from the ground, despite their great weight. This page requires an NZGeo.com account. While the baby’s nuclear DNA would be 100 per cent that of the extinct animal, its […]
In some Māori legends, Pouakai kill humans, which scientists believe could have been possible if the name relates to the eagle, given the massive size and strength of the bird. , The talons of the Haast's eagle were similar in length to those of the harpy eagle, with a front-left talon length of 4.9 to 6.15 cm (1.93 to 2.42 in) and a hallux-claw of possibly up to 11 cm (4.3 in). If we are to ensure the same story is not told by future generations about the spectacular birds of prey that still survive here today we must remain mindful of these lessons.
... Haast's Eagle: Also from New Zealand, these seriously large eagles could have flown away from human hunters but that wasn't their problem. It is thought to have been heavier in relation to wing size than any of the eagles alive today. Here is a rundown of some candidate species gathered in part from a to-clone list available from Mother Nature Network. The Maori legend of Pouakai no doubt refers to the Haast’s eagle and bone remains have been found within human midden sites (a midden is a mound of domestic refuse marking the site of a human settlement). It is known in Maori legend as Pouakai and there is little doubt that early settlers would have fallen victim to this most terrifying of aerial predators! The sculpture, weighing approximately 750 kg (1,650 lb; 118 st), standing 7.5 metres (25 ft) tall, and depicted with a wingspan of 11.5 metres (38 ft) is constructed from stainless steel tube and sheet and was designed and constructed by Mark Hill, a sculptor from Arrowtown, New Zealand. Skeletons of Haast’s eagles have been found in the drier eastern parts of the South Island, but they probably also occurred in the North Island as well. Several of the largest extant Old World vultures, if not in mean mass or other linear measurements, probably exceed Haast's eagle in average wingspan as well. DNA mash-up To de-extinct a species using cloning requires a similar species to act as a surrogate parent. However, most New Zealand birds are not brightly coloured and most experts agree that it is most likely to have been a more sombre brown or brownish-grey similar to the other very large forest eagles found around the world today.  Its large beak also could be used to rip into the internal organs of its prey and death then would have been caused by blood loss. One study estimated the total population at 3,000 to 4,500 breeding pairs, so the Haast's eagle would have been very vulnerable to changes in the number of moa. NZ birds of prey Falconry Maori & birds of prey Our Environment Kids Activities, Captive breeding for release Bird rehabilitation Raptor Award Report a falcon sighting, Your support is vital to help our raptors.
Haast’s eagle numbers soon fell and eventually declined to extinction. Some believe that these birds are described in many legends of the Māori, under the names Pouakai, Hokioi, or Hakawai.
Seddon says restoring extinct keystone species could have beneficial effects for others. The harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), and the Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) are the largest and most powerful living eagles, and the first two also have a similarly reduced relative wing-length as an adaptation to forest-dwelling. * We’ll never pass your email address to third parties, or send you spammy stuff, we promise. A noted explorer and surveyor, Charles Edward Douglas, claims in his journals that he had an encounter with two raptors of immense size in Landsborough River valley (probably during the 1870s), and that he shot and ate them; but they may have been Eyles's harriers.  According to an account given to Sir George Grey, an early governor of New Zealand, Hokioi were huge black-and-white birds with a red crest and yellow-green tinged wingtips.  Harpagornis moorei was therefore reclassified as Hieraaetus moorei. It is estimated that the grown female typically spanned up to 2.6 m (8.5 ft), possibly up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in a few cases. University of Otago professor Philip Seddon suggests a few things to consider before bringing Haast’s eagle back from the grave. Birds occupied or dominated all major niches in the New Zealand animal ecology. , Early human settlers in New Zealand (the ancestors of the Māori arrived around the year 1280) preyed heavily on large flightless birds, including all moa species, eventually hunting them to extinction by around 1400. “Releases would have to be staged,” says Seddon. Â This would have resulted in a low population density and low overall population size. Haast's eagle became extinct 500-600 years ago, around the same time that New Zealand's moa species became extinct. Extinct birds of New Zealand. Should we be attempting to de-extinct one species while many others are on the way to becoming extinct? Systematics and Palaeobiology of Haastâs Eagle Harpagornis moorei Haast 1872. This characteristic would compensate for the reduction in wing area by providing additional lift. Other very large birds of course! Evidence shows that this huge eagle existed when Maori first arrived in New Zealand some 800 years ago, and accounts suggest that it may even have still existed when Europeans arrived in the early 1800’s. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch images: © Megahan, Harder, Jacobs © Canterbury Museum, © Chirinos Science Photo Library. â¢ Holdaway, R. N. 1991. This story reminds us of the links in life, the unforeseen repercussions of our actions.  The species was the largest eagle known to have existed, with an estimated weight of 15 kilograms (33 lb) nearly double that of the Harpy eagle at 9 kilograms (20 lb). , Some wing and leg remains of Haast's eagles permit direct comparison with living eagles. Like other large predators the food requirements of the Haast’s eagle would have meant that they hunted over a very large area. moorei was powerful enough to attack and prey on giant flightless birds, the moa, weighing 10 to 15 times their own body weight. We can edit genes better than before.  Haast's eagle became extinct around 1400, after the moa were hunted to extinction by the first Māori.
Subscribe to our free newsletter for news and prizes.  Its massive size is explained as an evolutionary response to the size of its prey, the flightless moa, the largest of which could weigh 230 kg (510 lb). The others were around 5 cm long. The Haast’s eagle went extinct relatively recently. Would they have learned things they can’t learn from an Asian elephant surrogate mother? Claws. When and why did this enormous predator go extinct? Moa were grazers, functionally similar to deer or cattle in other habitats, and Haast's eagles were the hunters who filled the same niche as top-niche mammalian predators, such as tigers or lions. , H. moorei is estimated to have diverged from these smaller eagles as recently as 1.8 million to 700,000 years ago.
, They had a relatively short wingspan for their size.  The Philippine eagle might be a particularly appropriate living species to compare with the Haast's eagle, because it too evolved in an insular environment from smaller ancestors (apparently basal snake eagles) to island gigantism in the absence of large carnivorous mammals and other competing predators. The Haast’s Eagle was the biggest, baddest most magnificent eagle ever to have existed in the world. The tail was almost certainly long, in excess of 50 cm (20 in) in female specimens, and very broad. It is known in Maori legend as Pouakai and there is little doubt that early settlers would have fallen victim to this most terrifying of aerial predators!
Should we. The shortened wing bones would also suggest adaptation to a more forested environment. Ask your librarian to subscribe to this service next year. The Quarternary avifauna of the North Island, New Zealand. Like other large raptors it probably also had a very low reproductive rate. From its skeleton it appears related to the the Little Eagle of Australia (Hieraaetus morphnoides), and there is evidence that its wings were comparitively short and its legs stronger than those of other eagles.The size and strength of its legs and talons indicate that it was an effective and active predator, able to kill very large prey.
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