The official website of the Philippine Eagle Foundation

The Philippine Eagle

Scientific Name: Pithecophaga jefferyi
Status: Critically endangered

The Philippine Eagle is a giant forest raptor endemic to the Philippines. It is considered to be one of the three largest and most powerful eagles in the world. Unfortunately, it is also one of the world’s rarest and certainly among its most critically endangered vertebrate species.

  • Height: One meter (3 feet)
  • Wingspan: Two meters (7 feet), the broadest in the world
  • Distinct Features:
    • Massive arched beak and long crown feathers
    • Only blue-eyed bird of prey in the world, with eyes that can see eight times the distance than that of humans.
Distribution and Habitat Description
  • Found only in the Philippines – on the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao
  • Nests on large, old growth dipterocarp trees in lowland forests
  • Estimated population of only 400 pairs remaining in the wild
  • Solitary, fiercely territorial bird
  • Feeds on flying lemurs, squirrels, civets, snakes, hornbills, bats, and monkeys
  • Keeps one mate for life
  • Lays a single egg every two years. Parent eagles wait for their offspring to make it on their own (usually within two years) before producing another.
  • Egg is incubated alternately by both parents for about 58 – 60 days, with the male eagle doing most of the hunting during the first 40 days of the eaglet’s life while the female stays with the young.
  • Breeding season is from July to February
  • Takes 5-7 years to sexually mature
  • Lives up to 40+ years in captivity but probably much less in the wild

Threats to survival:

  • SHOOTING AND TRAPPING – Philippine eagles are still being shot or captured despite the presence of laws protecting them. Very often, they are killed without provocation, and mostly out of fear and ignorance, or worse, just for sport. At least one Philippine Eagle is killed every year because of shooting.
  • DEFORESTATION – The forest is the only home for the Great Philippine Eagle. It is where they obtain food, reproduce, and nourish their offspring. Unfortunately, illegal logging and irresponsible use of resources resulted to the disappearance of their forest habitat.

Why protect the Philippine Eagles?

We need to protect the Philippine Eagle for the following reasons:

  • It is found nowhere else except in the Philippines where it is the country’s national bird. Losing the species to extinction would also mean losing a nation’s precious biological heritage.
  • It represents a rare product of evolutionary creation. Based on recent genetic studies, it has no close relatives left among the living species of eagles in the world. Losing them would mean an irreversible loss of a unique species.
  • The Philippine Eagle is the top predator of the Philippine tropical rainforest. It plays an important role in keeping the ecosystem in balance and provides an umbrella of protection to all other life forms in its territory.
  • The Philippine Eagle is embedded in the oral histories and other cultural artefacts of several indigenous groups in the country. This indicates that it performs a role in the human production of unique cultures.
  • Economically, the presence of a healthy eagle population can also be a source of livelihood for the communities living near its area such as eco- tourism. Additionally, a healthy forest helps control soil erosion, mitigate the effects of climate change, minimize flooding, and provides additional sources of food, medicine, clothing, and shelter for our people.

These different spectrum of values unifies the diverse facets of our society. The role that the Philippine Eagle plays rightly deserves its title as the Philippine’s national bird- a symbol of unity, beauty and hope. This underscores the need to protect it for future Filipinos and the rest of the world to benefit and enjoy.

Legislations on the Philippine Eagle

Presidential Administrative Order No. 235 (August 25, 1970) Prohibited the wounding, taking, selling, exchange and/or exporting, processing, and killing of the eagle.
Republic Act No. 6147 (November 9, 1970) Declares the species as a protected bird in the Philippines and mandates the DENR to promulgate rules and regulations for its preservation.
General Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1971 (May 10, 1971) Defined provisions stated in Republic Act 6147, established several steps to protect the eagle in its nesting sites, and deputized officials to enforce the provisions of the law. This law prohibits cutting of any tree or plant within a kilometer radius of a Philippine Eagle nesting site.
Presidential Proclamation No. 1732 (May 8, 1978) Rename the Monkey-Eating Eagle as the “Philippine Eagle”.
Presidential Proclamation No. 615 (July 4, 1995) Declared Philippine Eagle as the National Bird. The law also ordered the DENR to secure the viability of the Philippine Eagle population.
Presidential Proclamation No. 79, series of 1999 (February 24, 1999) Declared June 4-10 of every year as Philippine Eagle Week.
Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Prohibits trade of the Philippine Eagle among nations.
Republic Act No. 9147 also known as the “Wildlife Act” Provides for the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and their habitats, appropriating funds therefore and for other purposes.