Pithecophaga jefferyi (Ogilvie-Grant, 1896)
Vertebrate - Bird
Critically endangered (IUCN)
This rare bird is the largest eagle in the Philippines. It measures one meter in height, with a wingspan of about 2 meters. It has amazingly sharp eyes, which are eight (8) times stronger than the human eyes. Its life span is approximately 30 to 60 years.
The Philippine eagle, known as the National Bird, is endemic to the Philippines being found only in four (4) islands namely: Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. It inhabits forests, forest edges, and logged over lowland forest to over 2,000 meters high. Carnivorous by nature, it feeds on monkeys, flying lemurs, squirrels, birds, snakes and other medium-sized mammals. Its coloration serves as a camouflage so that it can sit and watch for prey without being noticed.
The breeding season of the Philippine eagle is marked by regional differences. In Mindanao, nesting begins in September or October. In Luzon, the Philippine eagle nests on December, whereas in Samar, it starts in November. Incubation period is about 58 to 60 days, nestling period is about 4 to 5 months and the young’s dependence on adult can last to a minimum of 17 months. Nesting occurs every 2 years with only one egg laid. Its nest is made of sticks built on main forks of trees and usually located over 35 meters above the ground.
At present, the Philippine eagle is considered as one of the most endangered species on the planet. The rapid decline of its population is due to hunting and the destruction of rainforest brought about by a combination of logging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices. Famous for its handsome appearance, it is often hunted and sold to tourists.
Due to the Philippine eagle’s dwindling population, it has been listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), wherein, commercial export or trade is strictly prohibited. Also, a captive-breeding program under the Philippine Eagle Foundation has been established. The program, through artificial insemination and natural pairing was able to produce a total of ten eaglets since 1991. It is also monitoring the Philippine eagle’s population in the wild to ensure that the species will still continue to soar in the skies in the next century.