The Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is one of the largest and most endangered eagles in the world. The raptor is currently documented on just four Philippine islands—Mindanao, Luzon, Leyte, and Samar. Scientists estimate that perhaps only a few hundred pairs remain in the wild.
The Philippine Eagle is recognizable with its unique head crest resembling a lion’s mane, adding to its majestic appearance and earning for it the name Haring Ibon (Bird King). Its keen daytime eyesight which can be four to five times stronger than a human’s perfect vision, sharp hooked talons, dagger beak, and a flight that is fast and agile, uncharacteristic for such a large bird, all make for a very dangerous bird of prey.
The male and female Philippine eagle are similar in appearance, possessing a creamy white belly and underwing, while the upperparts are a rich chocolate-brown, with a paler edge. The long feathers of the head and nape form a distinctive, shaggy crest and are creamy-buff in colour with black streaks. Philippine eagle chicks have white down, and juveniles are similar in appearance to adults but have white margins to the feathers on the back and upperwing. The Philippine eagle has heavy, yellow legs with large, powerful claws, and the large, deep bill is a bluish-grey.
With a wingspan of nearly seven feet and a weight of up to 14 pounds, the species, Pithecophaga jefferyi, casts an impressive shadow as it soars through its rain forest home. Its long tail helps it skillfully maneuver while hunting for its elusive prey, like flying lemurs or palm civets.
The Philippine Eagle inhabits the mountain area around Mount Apo on Mindanao. A long time ago, the Philippine Eagle inhabited the mountain forests or clearings of lowland forest on Luzon, Leyte, Mindanao and Samar. Now, the mount Apo region on Mindanao is the last remaining environment in the Philippines where the eagles live. Most of the time the eagles hide in the forest. Because of the deforestation (the logging), the area to hide became rather small.
Previously called the “Monkey-eating Eagle” (the change was made through Proclamation No. 1732 s. 1978 declared by Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos), owing to its diet consisting of monkeys, the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is an endangered species unique to the Philippines.
The Philippine Eagle is the flagship species of the Philippine Raptors Conservation Program implemented by the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-PAWB) in 10 regions nationwide. The program’s output include an established database on the population distribution of the Philippine Eagle; to have their outputs proclaimed as protected area; to release captive-bred raptors in the wild; and to enjoin the participation of surrounding communities in wildlife conservation activities.