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Birds of Prey: The Philippine Eagle

Updated on March 12, 2017
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Bill has always had an interest in nature and in particular birds of prey. Learn about these majestic creatures that grace our skies.

Also known as the Monkey-Eating Eagle, the Philippine Eagle is considered to be the largest eagle species in the world based on its length. Found only in the Philippines on four of the country’s major islands, the Philippine Eagle is one of the rarest birds of prey in the world. With current estimates placing the population of the bird at only 180 to 500 eagles remaining in the wild, it is clear that this majestic bird of prey will need help to ensure its long term survival.

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Description

What separates the Philippine Eagle from other large eagle species aside from its sheer size is its beautiful shaggy, light brown crest that brings to mind a lion’s mane. With a dark face, dark brown back and white underside and wings, this is one stunning bird. Their large legs are vibrant yellow and this eagle has steely blue-grey eyes and a very large dark grey bill. As would be expected they have extremely large talons for hunting.

As with other large eagles the female is about ten percent larger than the average male, and can measure up to three and a half feet in length. Its six to seven foot wingspan, while shorter than other large eagle species, still presents an imposing figure.

Their weight will vary depending on their size and age with the largest females weighing up to 18 pounds. While its length makes the Philippine Eagle the largest eagle in the world, its weight is less than that of the Harpy Eagle and Steller’s Sea Eagle so crowning a “biggest eagle” champ is not a clear cut choice. Regardless, of which species is the largest, they are all magnificent creatures and will impress the heck out anyone fortunate enough to see one in the wild.

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Philippine Eagle Range
Philippine Eagle Range | Source

Habitat & Range

The Philippine Eagle is found only in the Philippines on the islands of Luzon, Leyte, Samar, and Mindanao. Mindanano has the highest number of eagles with between 80 and 230 breeding pairs. The other islands contain only a few birds with Leyte having only two breeding pairs. They prefer tropical lowland rain-forests and can be found from the lowlands up to about 6,000 feet in elevation.

This species does require a rather large area in which to hunt, upwards of 50 square miles. This is especially true when raising a chick and is one of the issues it faces in its long term survival. With deforestation occurring at an alarming rate in the Philippines the amount of old-growth forest remaining is dwindling quickly.

Despite their size the Philippine Eagle is a fast and agile aviator. Initially believed to feed primarily on monkeys, recent studies have found this to not be the case. The Philippine Eagle is an opportunistic hunter and will prey on whatever is available and abundant. Their diet consists of a variety of prey including lemurs, cloud-rats, lizards, snakes, monkeys, squirrels, bats and other birds. They will even go after small pigs and dogs if presented with the opportunity.

Breeding

Another issue to the long-term survival of the Philippine Eagle is its long breeding cycle, which lasts two years. As with most other birds of prey the Philippine Eagle mates for life and the female is sexually mature at about five years of age. The pair will construct a nest, which can reach up to five feet in diameter and will consist of sticks and green foliage.

Most often only one egg is laid but on occasion there can be two. Both the male and female will share in the incubation duties but the female does most of the work. The incubation period will last for approximately sixty days and once the eaglet is hatched both parents will help in the feeding. Fledging takes place after four to five months and the parents will continue to care for the young eagle for up to 20 months. This long care period is why the Philippine Eagle can only breed every two years. It can take over 300 days for the young eaglet to make its first kill so they are very dependent on their parents for food for a long period of time.

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Interesting Facts

  • The Philippine Eagle was declared the national emblem of the Philippines in 1995.
  • The first eaglet raised in captivity was named Pag-asa, which is the Tagalog (language of the Philippines) word for “hope”.
  • The Philippine Eagle can live to between 30 to 60 years.
  • Based on body length the Philippine Eagle is the largest eagle in the world. Factoring in weight as a measuring factor still places the Philippine Eagle as one of the top three biggest eagles in the world.
  • The Philippine Eagle is also known as the Monkey-Eating Eagle or the Great Philippine Eagle.
  • Despite having the name Monkey-Eating Eagle, the Philippine Eagles favorite prey is the flying lemur.
  • The Philippine Eagle was first discovered by English explorer John Whitehead in 1896.
  • The exact population of Philippine Eagles remaining is unknown due to the extreme difficulty in performing a census of of the bird in the dense rain-forests of the Philippines.
  • Famous aviator Charles Lindbergh was so taken and fascinated by the Philippine Eagle that he traveled to the Philippines many times towards the end of his life to persuade the Philippine government to protect the species.

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Status

With so few Philippine Eagles remaining in the wild it should come as no surprise that they are listed as critically endangered. With no more than 500 eagles remaining in the wild the prospects for their long-term survival are slim. The Philippines has taken measures to protect its beautiful national bird and killing a Philippine Eagle is now punishable by law with a twelve year jail sentence.

The major obstacles facing the Philippine eagle continue to be deforestation and the ever expanding agricultural need for land in the Philippines. Between deforestation, pollution, exposure to pesticides and poaching it seems to be an uphill battle for this species.

The Philippine Eagle Foundation, established in 1987 is dedicated to protecting this species and has an ongoing captive breeding program in place, which has conducted the release of captive-breed birds into the wild. Currently home to 36 Philippine Eagles, the foundation is committed to the survival of the species and to creating an environment in which this beautiful bird can thrive. Let’s hope that this majestic bird is given a fighting chance at survival. It would be such a shame if mankind allows this king of the Philippine rain-forest to become extinct.

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© 2013 Bill De Giulio

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    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 12 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Alun. Thanks for the heads up on the video, I have replaced it. It gets tough to stay on top of every hub. When I first learned of the Philippine Eagle my first reaction was wow, what a magnificent creature. Hopefully enough is being done to insure their long term survival.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 12 months ago from Essex, UK

      Hi Bill. Great feature on the Philippine Eagle, but sad to hear of its plight. Perhaps the fact that it is a national emblem of the Philippines will help energise conservation measures, and it's good to see that there is such a harsh penalty for deliberately killing one of these birds. I hope that it is enforced. But I guess money speaks loud, and the destruction of rainforest to make way for agricultural land must be a major concern. Sadly the video is no longer available Bill, but the superb opening photo more than makes up for that! Cheers, Alun

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Thelma. I'm envious. What a great opportunity to see one of the world's most magnificant creatures. You are very fortunate to have had this experience. Thanks for stopping by, have a wonderful day.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

      I have seen the Philippine Eagle again last year when I was in my home country. It was very beautiful.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Phyllis. The Philippine Eagle is another fascinating eagle species. Considered the largest in the world this is another one not to be messed with. It's so unfortunate that many of these amazing creatures are so endangered. Thanks so much for the vote, share, etc. have a wonderful holiday.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Bill. After reading about the Harpy I just had to come take a look at this other bad boy and learn about the Philippine Eagle. Such a beautiful bird. Looks like he had a bad hair, uhm... bad feather day in that one picture. I do hope and pray there is a way to save this Eagle from extinction.

      Another fascinating hub and beautiful photos which I so enjoyed.

      Up, U, A, I, B and H+

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Apple. I just checked and you are correct. I will remove that photo and try to replace it. Thank you so much for the input. Sometimes things slip through no matter how much checking we do.

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      Apple 3 years ago

      Bill please correct me if i am wrong the photo by angelo reyes doesent look like a philippine eagle i think it's a philippine hawk eagle. A specie of eagle endemic also to the Philippines im quite sure its not a monkey eating eagle...sorry.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Nick, I left a reply on the Harpy article regarding attacks on humans. Thanks for your interest in these amazing birds.

    • profile image

      nick 3 years ago

      Thanks bill

      I just wantbto know these bird also attack humans?

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Nick. Thanks for the comments. The Philippine Eagle is one impressive bird. Unfortunately they are very endangered. Hopefully the people of the Philippines are doing everything necessary to protect this majestic bird.

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      nick 3 years ago

      Very majestic and striking eagle. I love the headdress like a lions mane. So huge it really mess up my Harpy in size. I love the way it turn its head furious looking and very impressive. I can't believe its real i thought the video was a fantasy edited but its real. The wings and legs were so huge.

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      nick 3 years ago

      Very majestic and striking eagle. I love the headdress like a lions mane. So huge it really mess up my Harpy in size. I love the way it turn its head furious looking and very impressive. I can't believe its real i thought the video was a fantasy edited but its real. The wings and legs were so huge.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Linda. Thank you. They are an amazing creature and it's so sad that so many of these beautiful eagles are endangered. Great to see you here, have a wonderful weekend.

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      Lenzy 3 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Bill, I loved reading about the Philippine Eagle. It is majestic and cute at the same time. I loved the video. It looks like it was posing for a photo shoot. It is sad to realize how endangered it has become. Thanks, Linda

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Jerry. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. These are incredible creatures and I hope enough is being done to protect them for future generations. Thanks again.

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      jerry 3 years ago

      Ur right what separates these birds from the other eagle in the world is its headdress. The beauty of these bird can capture and fascinate anyones eye. Well it deserves to be called "Lion of the Sky." Because of its lion like appearance and ferocity.. thanks bill

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      jerry 3 years ago

      Bill, I love harpy im a big fun of it butwhen i read ur blog about these eagle, i can tell myself that this one perfect my criteria. Not just only the largest and powerful of all eagles but the most majestic among them all. When i see the photo i can tell you its the most striking and regal of all eagles. The mane is so fantastic and striking. .... nice blog thanks bill

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi FA. Thank you, glad you enjoyed learning about the Philippine Eagle. They are an amazing species. I hope they are doing enough to protect this eagle. Many thanks for the share, pin, etc. Have a great weekend.

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      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      You definitely had my attention at "Monkey-Eating Eagle." I cannot get over the fact they eat lemurs, but I don't know why that surprises me given their size. Very interesting and beautiful bird. Voted up and more, shared, pinned!

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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks CrisSp. Appreciate the info.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      *creatures*--sorry, I missed the "s".

      Not sure what the new administration is actually (if any) doing for the protection of these species but hopefully something to preserve the grandeur of these species. They always say, there's not enough fund. However, in fairness there's quite a number of dedicated volunteers running to help secure the future of these beauties.

      I saw them up close at the Phil Eagle Center in Davao. Now, I gotta go dig the chestbox for some old pictures. :) And, you're welcome.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi CrisSp. I'm envious that you have seen this beautiful eagle. I am also saddened that you do not think the Philippine government is doing enough to protect this majestic bird. Of all the Eagles that I have written about the Philippine Eagle has to be the most endangered by far. I just don't understand how they cannot give this eagle the utmost protection to give it a chance to survive so generations from now people can enjoy this beautiful bird.

      Thank you for stopping by to read. I appreciate the vote, pin share, etc... Have a great day.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I've seen these creature in real life--they are beautiful. I think I've learned more from your hub about them than I did in school (years ago). I wish the Phil government will do more to enhance their protection.

      What an enjoyable read. Voting up, pinning and passing it along.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Glimmer Twin. This is one amazing bird. I hope they make it. Thanks for the read and comment.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Fascinating hub. I have never heard of this eagle before. Great photos of a beautiful bird.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi jpcmc. I hear you loud and clear. What a shame it would be if this beautiful national symbol of the Philippines were to disappear. Here is the US we had a similar situation with the California Condor. It took until there were only a few dozen birds left for serious action to take place and now they are on the rebound, but still have a long way to go. This is something that the government needs to get behind. If they are not serious about protecting this eagle their numbers will continue to shrink. Best of luck, I will be following their plight and praying for their long term survival.

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      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi bdgiulio, There are efforts, but the government can do more. Even the private sector can do more. Unfortunately, wanting to help is not enough. real actions should be done. I don't want to wake up one day and learn that they're all gone. It's a national symbol of my country, and we need to protect it.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi jpcmc. What a shame. I had hoped that the efforts to preserve this eagle were sufficient but perhaps I am wrong. Thank you for stopping by and please spread the word about this beautiful bird.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Thelma. Lucky you to have seen a Philippine Eagle when you were young. I just hope they are still around generations from now so our grandkids can also see this beautiful eagle. Many thanks for stopping by and the share.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      It's a shame that we neglect this bird. Efforts in conserving their habitat does not get enough attention.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Wow! Beautiful! I have seen the Philippine Eagle before when I was a child. Our small town in Mindanao, Philippines was still full of forest and I saw this kind of bird from our nipa hut window which was in front of the forest. Thanks for reminding me this event in my childhood and for sharing this informative hub with us. Well done! Shared;-)

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi ComfortB. Thank you. They are beautiful. Unfortunately they are also extremely endangered. Thanks for stopping by and the Vote.

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      Comfort Babatola 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      O, what beauty! Thanks for sharing. Voted up and beautiful.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Suzie. My thanks as always for the great support. The Philippine Eagle is one amazing creature. Hopefully the people of the Philippines take the necessary measures to protect this wonderful bird. Have a great day and thank you as always for the vote, share, etc.

      Hi Mary. I wondered the same thing, how does such a large bird survive in a rainforest? Despite their size they are extremely quick and agile, and able to maneuver through the trees,which I find amazing. Thank you for the wonderful support, I do very much appreciate my Hubpage friends.

      Hi mperrottet. Thank you for stopping by to read. They are awesome, aren't they. It will be a struggle for this species to survive but it is good to see the Philippine government taking steps to protect them. Many thanks.

      Hi Sheila. I continue to be amazed at how many amazing species of eagle there out there. Every time I start reading and digging I come across another fascinating species that most of us here in the U.S. are probably not familiar with. My thanks as always for the support, vote, share, pin, etc... Have a great day.

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      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Another wonderful hub on eagles! I never knew there were so many species of eagle. This is a beautiful bird, I love the "shaggy" crest. I truly hope that the people of the Philippines are successful in saving this beautiful bird. You did a great job here, as always! Voting up+++, pinning and sharing on my wildlife blog! Have a wonderful day Bill! :)

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      Margaret Perrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      Great hub with such interesting facts and wonderful pictures and video. This is such an awesome creature - let's hope that it survives. Voted up and interesting.

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      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      What a fascinating hub about a fascinating bird. The video was amazing, I kept wondering how this huge bird could manage flying around all those trees! He is truly beautiful and as you say I hope the efforts for his survival are successful. Thanks for bringing this bird to our attention. You always find such interesting birds!

      Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

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      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      what a majestic bird The Philippine Eagle is. So beautiful and what a wingspan as seen in the video! Fantastic job again bringing us another amazing bid of prey, what a series you have going! So sad to know they are near extinct. All the votes, shared and pinned - this is a beautiful hub in every way, congrats again Bill.

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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Alicia. Thank you. This is one amazing creature. I just hope that enough is being done to save the species. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a beautiful and awesome bird. Thank you for the very interesting facts, the lovely photos and the video.

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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Carol. They are amazing creatures. Appreciate the support, vote, pin, etc.... Have a great day.

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      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Something new to learn. The pictures are beautiful and a job well done as always. I have a new respect for eagles that is for sure. Thanks for all the great information. Voting up and pinning.

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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      hawaiianodysseus. Of all the eagles that I've written about this one really got to me. With only 500 or so birds left it will be a struggle for this species to survive. Hopefully the Philippine Eagle will be around for future generations to marvel at.

      I love your name for this bird :) It does appear that he's wearing his favorite toupee. Many thanks for the support. How is the walking going? Well I hope.

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      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      I'm a quarter Filipino, Bill, so knowing that this bird lives in the country of my ancestors piques my interest. Yes, I agree with you, what a beautiful and amazing bird! I am fascinated with the avian hubs you share with us on a regular basis, interspersed between your fabulous travel articles. This, by far, is my favorite. Just wanted to let you know I coined another name for this gorgeous bird--Eagle Sporting a Toupee! LOL! Have a great rest of the week, Bill!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Bill. The more I dig, the more of these amazing birds I come across. This one really touched me when I found out that there are less than 500 of these beautiful birds left.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Incredible bird! Thanks for the education; I had never heard of this bird until this hub. Well done, Bill!

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