Philippine eagle

Pithecophaga_jefferyi

Profile

The Philippine eagle is a large raptor living only in the Philippines. Males and females look alike, both having a white head, neck, and underbelly with brown wings. If you look closely in the picture above, you can see that the edges of the wing feathers are white, even though the rest of the feather is brown. These birds have almost the same coloring as the white-bellied sea eagle. The difference is that the sea eagles have gray wings, and Philippine eagles have brown wings as I mentioned earlier. This bird has yellow legs, which you cannot see well in the picture above, but you can see the bluish-gray color of its beak. In the picture below, you can see brown and white feathers on the back of the bird’s head. When the wind blows from the back, these feathers make a distinctive crown-like display.

Sir_Arny(Philippine_Eagle)

Size

Philippine eagles are some of the largest raptors in the world. Another eagle about the same size is the golden eagle. Males and females, which are about the same size, can be up to about 39 inches (1 m) long. They have a wingspan of about double that: about 6 feet 7 inches (2 m). They are rather heavy for birds, but that can be expected for birds of this size. They weigh on average a little over 14 pounds (6.5 kg).

Diet and hunting

Because these eagles are so large, they must eat a lot to keep them going. The also are able to capture larger animals than most other birds are. Philippine eagles hunt mainly medium-sized mammals, but these can come in many varieties. They include small deer, flying squirrels, lemurs, bats, and even monkeys. Because of this, these birds are sometimes called monkey-eating eagles. In fact, this name was the only name this bird had for over one hundred years! Philippine eagles also eat snakes and small birds as well as smaller mammals such as rats.

While hunting, individuals start first at the top of a hill. If they don’t see any prey after a while, they will move down the hill a ways and look again over a different area. If they reach the bottom of the hill with no success, they will fly back up to the top and begin again, hoping some animals came along while they were gone. This strategy conserves energy, as these eagles can just soar from one perch down to another without even flapping their wings!

Sometimes these eagles have been known to hunt in pairs. One will act as a decoy, convincing a group or individual to focus on it. The other eagle will then swoop in, grabbing its prey.

Habitat and range

As you can tell by its name, the Philippine eagle lives in the Philippines. They don’t live anywhere other than this nation of islands. The range map below shows more specifically where in the Philippines these eagles live. There are no major land masses in the picture below, so in case you didn’t know, the Philippines are south-east of Asia.

384px-Phileagle_rangemap

These birds inhabit the small remaining areas of dipterocarp forest. Dipterocarp forsests are forests with certain types of trees which are found only in the tropics in the Old World.

Status and threats

Philippine eagles are some of the rarest eagles in the world. They are ranked as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Redlist. These birds never were abundant, and also have undergone a severe decline in their population. As with many animals, the biggest threat of the Philippine eagle is habitat loss. Areas are cleared for mining and agriculture, giving these creatures less room to hunt and breed. Breeding pairs need large areas – at least 25 square miles (65 sq. km.) – to hunt and raise their young in. If areas of forest are made much smaller than this, breeding will be made much harder.

Given their large size, these eagles have no known natural predators, even for their young. Despite this, recent population estimates have put the number of Philippine eagles left in the wild as low as 500 adults.

Reproduction and young

Reproduction for these eagles is a very slow process, which is bad news for their low population. Philippine eagle pairs stay together for life. They build large nests high up in the tree tops. These nests can be up to 9 feet across (2.8 meters) and up to 160 feet (50 m) above ground! These birds lay only one large, white egg every other year. This egg needs two months of incubation before it hatches. According to one source, a new born Philippine eagle looks like “a big-headed, big-footed ball of cotton.”

These cotton balls cannot regulate their body temperature for several weeks, and their parents must protect them from cold and heat. In just four or five months, the young start flying, and about this time they reach their adult size as well. Although they mature relatively quickly, the young still depend on their parents for over a year. This is why the adults only have one chick every two or three years. If something happens to their chick one year, they may try again the next year.

Life

Despite being independent at two years of age, Philippine eagles are not ready to have their own children until they are five to seven years old. These birds are rather long-lived, sometimes reaching up to 60 years of age!

Don’t forget to scroll down and comment your guess about what the next animal is!

800px-CSIRO_ScienceImage_3797_A_Redback_Spider

Sources:

Photo credits:

  • Philippine eagle – scorpious18
  • Philippine eagle side view – Harrybalais
  • Philippine eagle range – public domain
  • Mystery animal – David McClenaghan
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