Philippine Eagle

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A Philippine Eagle at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao. Roy Kabanlit
A Philippine Eagle at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao. Roy Kabanlit

The Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is one of the largest, rarest and most powerful birds in the world. It is also known as the monkey-eating eagle, the great Philippine eagle, the haribon or Haring Ibon (king of birds).

In 1995, Proclamation No. 615 by former president Fidel Ramos declared the Philippine eagle the national bird in place of the maya.[1][2]

The Philippine eagle has many local names, including haribon (Tagalog), manaol (Bisaya), garuda (Maranao), and malambagook (Bagobo, Manobo).


The Philippine eagle can grow up to 1.021 meters from the tip of its bill to its tail and its eyes are a dusky blue color. This species' nests can be found in trees 120 feet from the ground.

Philippine eagle eggs are typically little smaller than a fist. Courting starts as early as July and the building of nests typically lasts from September to December. The female eagle becomes lethargic and refuses to eat eight to ten days before laying an egg. It will then lay an egg between the afternoon and twilight. Incubating the egg takes 58 to 68 days and both parents participate. After hatching, the chick remains in the nest for five months.

The Philippine eagle is considered the largest eagle in the world, but is second to the harpy eagle of South America in terms of weight.


John Whitehead first documented the Philippine eagle in 1896 in Samar. It was known then as the monkey-eating eagle based on the assumption that its diet is comprised exclusively of monkeys. This assumption was to be disproven as the eagle evidently also eats lizards, small cats, chickens, bats, deer, smaller birds of prey, rats, and snakes.

On 16 December 1986, during a congregation of the British Ornithologists' Club at London, Ogilvie Grant described the Philippine eagle and dubbed it with the scientific name Pithecophaga jefferyi, derived from the Greek words "pithecus" for "monkey" and "phagien" for "eater." The name “jefferyi” commemorates Jeffry Whitehead, John Whitehead's father.

Ecology and behavior

The Philippine eagle can be found on four islands in the Philippines - Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao.[3] It is the top predator in forests within its territory, earning it the monicker 'king of birds'.

Each mating pair of Philippine eagles needs a vast hunting range in order to raise one chick. Deforestation is thus devastating the entire species.

Fledgeling Philippine eagles at play have been observed to grip knotholes with their talons, balancing with their tails and wings during flight, and peeking their heads into holes in trees. Younglings are also known to attack inanimate objects and practice hanging upside-down from branches. The parents are assumed to play no part in the training of a fledgeling because they are absent whenever a fledgeling practices these activities.

Philippine eagles live for 30 to 60 years.

Protection and preservation

The Philippine eagle is considered to be a critically endangered species.[4] It is listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with an estimated number of only 400 pairs left in the wild.[3] Numbers have been decimated by deforestation that leads to loss of hunting grounds that eagles need to raise offspring.

Republic Act No. 6147 was passed to protect the Philippine eagle from extinction.[5] An organization called the Philippine Eagle Foundation was created to promulgate and protect the species.

In 1992, a chick named Pag-asa (Hope) was hatched in captivity and has become a symbol of nature preservation. It died on 6 January 2021.[6]


  1. National Symbols. National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Retrieved on 8 April 2021.
  2. Proclamation No. 615, s. 1995. Official Gazette. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Philippine Eagle. Philippine Eagle Foundation. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  4. Philippine Eagle. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 8 April 2021
  5. Republic Act No. 6147. Supreme Court E-Library. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  6. Philippine Eagle Foundation. (8 January 2021). Pag-asa would have been 29 on January 15. His hatchday is a monumental event as it spurred the conservation breeding efforts for his species. Fly free, Pag-asa. Your legacy lives on. [Image attached] [Status update]. Facebook. Retrieved 8 April 2021.

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