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Philippine Eagle Fact File

Pithecophaga jefferyi

Credit: Jethrude Hipolito, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

4.5-8kg

(10-18lbs)

Length

86-100cm

(34-39in)

Lifespan

Wild 30-60 years

Captive 60 years

Diet

Carnivore

Monkeys, Birds, Lizard

Conservation Status

IUCN

Critically Endangered

The Philippine eagle is among the world's most endangered bird species with numbers having fallen as low as 500. Their range is restricted to just 4 islands in the Philippines.

These birds are carnivorous and were previously known as the monkey-eating eagle. This was due to a mistaken belief that they solely feed on monkeys but instead they are now recognized as opportunistic carnivores which take any prey.

Pairs are monogamous and remain together for life. They work together to care for their chicks.

Unfortunately this species has become highly threatened through habitat loss and capture both for food and sale in to the illegal wildlife trade.

Read on to learn more about these beautiful birds.

Appearance

What does the Philippine eagle look like?

Across the back these birds have brown feathers with white on the underside. On top of the head is a crest of shaggy feathers.

Their long downward curving beak allows them to tear flesh with ease. Both feet are equipped with large claws which help them to cut through their prey.

The two eyes are colored bluish. They are able to see at up to eight times the distance that a human can.

The Philippine eagle measures an average of 86-100cm (34-39in) long with a weight between 4.5 and 8kg (10 and 18lbs). They have a wingspan of 2.2m (7.2ft) across. Females tend to be slightly larger than males.

Diet

What does the Philippine eagle eat?


The Philippine eagle is a carnivore. They feed on a range of small mammals and have become well-known for snatching monkeys. Other animals consumed include the Philippine flying lemur, cloud rats, birds, palm civets, snakes, monitor lizards, birds and bats.

Two hunting techniques are observed across their range. One involves the bird sitting motionless and waiting for prey while the other involves periodic glides seeking out food.

Instances of pair hunting have also been observed where one member of the pair will distract the prey and the other attacks it from behind.

Philippine Eagle

Credit: shankar s. from Dubai, united arab emirates, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Range

Where can you find the Philippine eagle?

The Philippine eagle is, as its name suggests, a species endemic to the Philippines. Here they are found on the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.

Most of the population now lives on Mindanao.

Habitat

What kind of environment does the Philippine eagle live in?

These birds make their home in forests, mostly in areas with steep terrain.

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Reproduction

How does the Philippine eagle produce its young?

Philippine eagles form monogamous pairs which maintain their bond for life.

Breeding season begins around September with some variation in timing between islands. Their breeding cycle last two years. Pairs which lose their egg will try and breed again the next year.

Their nest is large and formed out of sticks within the main fork of a tree.

One egg is most common which is incubated by both parents over a two month period. Eggs are colored white. The female completes the majority of the incubation period.

Fledging takes place at between 4 and 5 months old. They may remain with their parents for a year and a half.

They are the tallest species of eagle on Earth and are among the heaviest.

Sexual maturity is reached at five years old for females and seven years for males.

Behavior

What does the Philippine eagle do with its day?

These birds produce a loud, high-pitched vocalization.

They are active during the day which is when they will complete their hunting and preparation of their nest.

Philippine Eagle

Credit: shankar s. from Dubai, united arab emirates, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Philippine eagle?

The population of the Philippine eagle is currently in rapid decline. Estimates place the total population at between 180 and 500 individuals.

Most pairs live on Mindanao with the other islands providing a home for less than 10 pairs each.

Threats to this species include destruction and fragmentation of their habitat to allow for cultivation. Much of their remaining habitat is already leased for clearance. Mining is an increasing threat which may cause the clearance of further habitat.

They are also subject to hunting for food and in some instances for display or trade. Accidental captures in traps set for other animals can also lead to their demise.

Other threats which require further investigation include severe weather events and the impact of pesticides.

Quick facts

These birds are listed as the national bird of the Philippines. They were also the official mascot of the Southeast Asian Games competition in 2005.

This species has also be known as the monkey-eating eagle due to their habit of preying on monkeys.

Philippine eagles were first described for western science by John Whitehead in 1896.

The 'jefferyi' portion of their scientific name is taken from the father of John Whitehead, Jeffery.

Philippine Eagle

Credit: RoyKabanlit, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

BirdLife International. 2018. Pithecophaga jefferyi (amended version of 2017 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22696012A129595746. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T22696012A129595746.en. Downloaded on 11 November 2021.

Mandai.com. 2021. Philippine Eagle. [online] Available at: <https://www.mandai.com/en/jurong-bird-park/animals-and-zones/philippine-eagle.html> [Accessed 11 November 2021].

WildArk. 2021. Philippine Eagle – WildArk. [online] Available at: <https://wildark.org/species/philippine-eagle/> [Accessed 11 November 2021].

Valdeavilla, R., 2021. Philippine Eagle: 11 Facts About The Philippines' National Bird. [online] Available at: <https://theculturetrip.com/asia/philippines/articles/philippine-eagle-11-facts-about-the-philippines-national-bird/> [Accessed 11 November 2021].

DiveScotty. 2021. Philippine Eagle Monkey Eating Eagle. [online] Available at: <https://www.divescotty.com/underwater-blog/philippine-eagle-monkey-eating-eagle.php> [Accessed 11 November 2021].

2021. THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE. [online] Available at: <https://www.philippineeaglefoundation.org/philippine-eagle> [Accessed 11 November 2021].

EDGE of Existence. 2021. Philippine Eagle – EDGE of Existence. [online] Available at: <http://www.edgeofexistence.org/species/philippine-eagle/> [Accessed 11 November 2021].

Peregrinefund.org. 2021. Philippine Eagle | The Peregrine Fund. [online] Available at: <https://www.peregrinefund.org/explore-raptors-species/eagles/philippine-eagle> [Accessed 11 November 2021].

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