Endemic to the Philippines, the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is the country’s most regal-looking bird. They are mostly found in Mindanao and it has become one of the icons of the island and the whole country as well.
Those who want to meet this rare breed in person can visit the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City, a breeding facility operated by the Philippine Eagle Foundation. The foundation is committed to helping the species survive and increase their population.
Below are the interesting facts about the Philippine Eagle.
It is the country’s national bird
It was in July 1995 when the Philippine Eagle was declared the national bird of the Philippines, replacing the Mayang Pula (chestnut munia).
The bird has been featured on at least 12 stamps, Philippine coins and banknotes, and has also been used as mascot and part of the logo of various Philippine sports teams and organizations.
Largest of the surviving eagles
Of all the existing or surviving eagles, the Philippine Eagle is considered the largest in the world in terms of length and wing surface. Its total length ranges from 82 to 102 cm with 95 cm as the average for males and 105 cm for the females. The longest Philippine Eagle in history has a length of 12 cm.
Their population is critically endangered
The Philippine Eagle faces a threat to their population and has been listed as critically endangered with only about 400 pairs left in the Philippines. Their plight is caused by loss of habitat due to deforestation through mining, logging, and expanding agriculture as well as pollution and exposure to harmful chemicals like pesticides. Poaching used to be a threat as well.
To address the issues and prevent the extinction of the species, programs were started and laws passed to protect this vulnerable creature. Killing a Philippine Eagle is prohibited in the Philippines and those who committed the crime is punishable by 12 years jail time and heavy fines.
Can be found on four Philippine islands only
The Philippine Eagle is less likely to be found in the forests of other Philippine islands except eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao, the latter being home to the largest number of eagles with around 200 pairs.
A pair requires a large home range
In order to raise a chick, a pair of eagles need a large home range of around 130 square kilometers. This explains their decreasing population caused by habitat loss.
Originally known as the Philippine monkey-eating eagle
Initially believed to be feeding on monkeys exclusively, the species was once referred to as the Philippine monkey-eating eagle. But contrary to the popular belief, the prey varies from a small bat to a Pilippine deer. It actually depends on the prey available on the island.
They are monogamous
Animals are often great examples when it comes to loyalty. Paired eagles remain together for the rest of their lives however if one dies, it is not unusual for the other to look for a new mate. A female eagle lays an egg every two years only and the couple both help incubate the egg, feed the newly-hatched chick, and take turns shielding it from the rain or sun.
READ MORE: Birds of the Philippines