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Updates on the Nesting Biology and Population Status of the Philippine Eagle

The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is one of three most critically endangered eagles in the world (Bildstein et al. 1998). Historically found in the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao of the Philippine archipelago, it has always been regarded as one of the rarest eagles in the world. Previous estimates of the Philippine Eagle population have been speculative (Alvarez 1970, Gonzales 1971, Rabor 1971). Kennedy (1978, 1985), with considerably more data, gave an estimate of 200 to 400 birds in Mindanao.

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Notes on the Breeding Behavior of a Philippine Eagle Pair at Mount Sinaka, Central Mindanao

We documented the breeding behavior and diet of a Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) pair from July 1999 to January 2000 in an isolated forest in Central Mindanao. We observed eight distinct courtship displays and several activity patterns on the nest. Copulation started two months prior to egg laying and continued until the first month of incubation, with a mean of 1.5 copulations per day. Seventyfour percent of the time devoted to incubation was by the female. The incubation period lasted 58 days. Throughout the incubation and early brooding phases the male provided food for the female and the young. Diet consisted of 17 prey items of four vertebrate taxa, mostly mammals, with civet cats (Family Viverridae) and flying lemur (Cynocephalus volans) representing the bulk of the diet.

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Distribution and nesting density of the Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi on Mindanao Island, Philippines: what do we know after 100 years?

The Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi is a large forest raptor considered to be one of the three most critically endangered eagles in the world (Bildstein et al . 1998, Collar et al . 1999). The species was first discovered in 1896 (Ogilvie-Grant 1896, 1897 [published in The Ibis ]). The eagles are not particularly secretive or shy, and in fact can be rather conspicuous, especially when flying or vocalizing during the breeding season. But they are widely dispersed, uncommon, and usually located in steep terrain and heavy forest where visibility and accessibility are limited.

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Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga Jefferyi Breeding Biology, Diet, Behavior, Nest Characteristics, And Longevity Estimate In Mindanao Island

This study described the breeding biology, diet, behavior and nest characteristics of Philippine Eagles in Mindanao using data from five Philippine Eagle pairs nesting from 1999 to 2007. Using information on breeding success spanning three decades (1977-2007), an estimate of longevity for Philippine Eagles was also calculated. Although results for breeding behavior, diet analysis, and nests and nest tree characterization did not vary considerably from previous studies, this study provided additional details and insights from the parameters considered.

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A Modified Bal-chatri to capture Great Philippine Eagles for Radiotelemetry

Proven capture techniques for eagles and other large raptors include bownets (Meredith 1943, Mattox and Graham 1968, Clark 1970, Field 1970), padded leghold traps (Harmata 1985), net guns fired from helicopters (O'Gara and Getz 1986), pit traps (Bloom 1987), power snares (Jackman et al. 1994), and bal-chatris (Berger and Mueller 1959). The bal-chatri is one of the most effective traps and can have a success rate of up to 85% for most species that strike the trap (Bloom 1987). Since the late 1970s the Philippine Eagle Conservation Program has been developing techniques to capture Great Philippine Eagles (Pithecophagajefferyz) for radiotelemetry studies. Trapping tropical eagles proved difficult because of the rugged terrain of Philippine mountains. Also, the precarious conservation status of the Great Philippine Eagle as critically endangered (Bildstein 1998) demanded the development of safe as well as effective trapping techniques.

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Notes on the Breeding Behavior of a Philippine Eagle Pair at Mount Sinaka, Central Mindanao

A complete breeding cycle in this species lasts two years, and successful pairs produce a single offspring (Gonzales 1968, Kennedy 1985). Since the detailed work by Kennedy (1977, 1985) on Philippine Eagle nesting biology, there have been few studies on the behavior and ecology of this species. Recently, new information on the eagles’ breeding success (Miranda et al. 2000) and nesting density and population estimates for Mindanao Island (Bueser et al. 2003) have been published. This study describes the prey as well as the behavior of a pair of Philippine Eagles nesting in a relict forest in Central Mindanao, Philippines. This initial attempt to quantify activity patterns of a pair in an isolated forest habitat is relevant in the light of continued forest fragmentation in the Philippines, where the behavioral responses of Philippine Eagles to a shrinking habitat remain unknown.

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Ecology and conservation of Philippine Eagles

In the short term, we believe hunting is a major and deadly threat to the species. Out of 11 eagles recovered since 1999, seven sustained gunshot wounds, three were trapped using improvised snares and one nestling was stolen from a nest. Two of these birds did not survive. There are probably more incidents of hunting and trapping that remain unreported. Human persecution can be devastating to a species already on the edge of extinction. Species may be lost altogether even though suitable habitat still remains. But unlike habitat loss, which requires solutions that encompass several generations, hunting and other forms of persecution is a behavioral problem that is reversible in human time scale.

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Holistic Strategies to save the Philippine Eagle

The popultaion status of the Philippine eagle is alarming. Habitat and probably prey population are continuing to disappear at a rapid rate. Deforestation in the Philippines es estimated at 190,000 ha/yr. The United States Agency for International Developement(USAID) indicated that only 7,000 ha of primary dipterocarp forest remain (USAID 1989). Wihtout plcaes to live and foor to survive, the species could rapidly become extinct.

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