Today’s endangered species comes to us all the way from the Philippines. The Philippine eagle is the largest eagle in the world. Other names for this raptor includes “Monkey-eating eagle” and “Aguila Monera”. As it’s name suggests, it is endemic to the Philippines. Four specific islands to be exact: Luzon, Leyte Mindanao and Samar. The population used to be widespread across all of the islands but due to threats which will we get to later on, the population size decreased. Philippine eagles are found in dipterocarp trees in the rainforests of the Philippines. Dipterocarp trees are basically hardwood trees with winged seeds and are very dominant in lowland, tropical forests of Asia.
When you think of an eagle, most automatically imagine the looks of a bald eagle. Philippine eagles have slightly different colorings than a bald or golden eagle and because it’s the largest eagle in the world, it’s bigger. Both male and female Philippine eagles can grow to a height of about 3 feet (1 meter) with a wingspan of 7 feet (2 meters) with a weight of 14 pounds (6.5 kilograms) or more. The underbelly of a Philippine eagle is snowy white with their back being a chocolate brown as well as the feathers on their crown. The crown is one of the distinctive traits of that make the Philippine eagle different from other eagle species. It has a crown it can puff out, sort of like a peacock’s feathers, at will and from afar it looks like a mane. Another distinctive feature is it’s bright blue eyes. In fact, its the only bird of prey in the world to possess blue eyes. The beak is also a greyish-blue color and has a large arch to it.
The diet of this species is as it’s secondary name suggests. Philippine eagles mainly dine on monkeys, flying lemurs and other small primates. They will also eat rats, snakes, flying squirrels, bats, and even small deer. They hunt in pairs or alone. Pairs have been observed hunting where one serves as the decoy while the other captures prey. Philippine eagles are pretty monogamous. I say pretty because when they do mate, they will mate for life but if a mate dies, it’s not uncommon for the eagle to find another mate. Breeding season occurs in September. Mates will lay one egg every two years in a nest high up in the canopy of the jungle. Offspring rely on their parents for at least a year before going off on their own. Philippine eagles can live up to 50 years.
Philippine eagles are listed on the IUCN red list as Critically Endangered. It is thought that there are less than 500 individuals left in the wild. The major threat to this species is habitat destruction. Due to logging and agricultural ventures, a lot of the forest that this species relies on has been decimated. Pesticides have also been on the rise and affects the diet of these birds and reduces their reproduction rate. Poaching is also a major threat. Even though their are laws in place, people still claim to shoot the birds out of fear if not for sport.
There have been steps taken to save this species. It’s not only biologically important but it’s also essential for the Philippine heritage. It is the country’s national bird and has been represented in many aspects of the Philippine culture. It’s also an apex predator and keystone species for the ecosystem. There are a few programs as well as legislation have been instated to preserve the species habitat. There are a couple of eagles in captivity for reintroduction programs and there are monetary incentives to the natives to help keep the forest healthy.
If you would like to donate to help the Philippine eagle cause or gain more information, click the link here. All of the eagles have currently been adopted but you can still view all 33 of them and see their stories.