The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) or monkey-eating eagle, is one of the largest birds of prey in the world. This raptor is a native of the Philippine islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao, dwelling in heavily forested steep mountain slopes. Although first named for its diet of monkeys, rodents, bats, and other small tree-dwelling animals, it was given a more nationalistic name in 1995.
Sporting a wingspan of nearly two meters, the Philippine eagle can be identified by its dark brown back and wing feathers, brown-and-white streaked head feathers, and a fluffy white chest. It mates for life and has an elaborate courtship ritual, well-documented by years of observation.
Its size and appearance (the short, narrow head feathers appear to form a spiky "crown"), it is sometimes called the "haring ibon" (king bird) by locals. It is now the poster child for many wildlife conservation organizations, including the Haribon Foundation and the Philippine Eagle Foundation.
First discovered in 1896, its numbers have steadily dwindled with the encroachment of humans on its native habitat, the destruction of the rain forest, causing a loss of suitable nesting sites, and illegal hunting and trapping by both foreign and local hunters and smugglers. There are now less than 70 known specimens in the wild, although the Philippine Eagle Foundation successfully hatched a chick in captivity in 1992. Two more eagles have been raised by the foundation, although efforts to release them into the wild has met with mixed results.
Info taken from the Philippine Eagle Foundation, the Peregrine Fund (www.peregrinefund.org) and the Haribon Foundation (www.haribon.org.ph).