New family of endangered Philippine eagles found in Davao Oriental

New Philippine eagles
A family of Philippine eagles was sighted in Lupon, Davao Oriental. Photos from Davao Oriental’s Provincial Information Office/Eden Jhan Licayan.

A family of critically-endangered Philippine eagles has been sighted in the tropical forests of Lupon, Davao Oriental.

According to the report by the province’s information office, photographer Eden Jhan Licayan was able to capture pictures and video footage of the large birds, one of the rarest eagles in the world, during a four-day assessment of potential tourism sites from December 7 to 10, 2020.

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A total of three Philippine eagles in the area were documented by Licayan’s team, including a juvenile near its nest and two others flying over the forest canopy.

Licayan said he first spotted the young Philippine Eagle perched on a tree while emitting a powerful call and sighted two much bigger ones the next day.

The Philippine Eagle Foundation Head for Research and Development, Dr. Jason Ibanez, confirmed that the sightings were indeed Philippine eagles, also known as monkey-eating eagles that are endemic to the forests of the Philippines.

“The photos are indeed those of a Philippine Eagle…based on the general appearance and nature of its feathers, the bird at perch is a juvenile (around one-year-old) Philippine Eagle,” Dr. Ibanez said.

“The presence of a juvenile means there are eagle parents, and the photos of two flying eagles are possibly the eagle couple. An expedition next year to further document the eagle pair and their young is highly recommended,” he added.

Based on where the photos were taken, Dr. Ibanez says the eagle family is within the Mount Kampalili-Puting Bato Key Biodiversity Area of Davao Oriental, one of the few remaining large habitats of Philippine Eagles in Mindanao.

With only an estimated 400 pairs left in the world, the Philippines’ very own giant bird of prey has been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and can be seen in 4 islands in the Philippines – Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao, according to the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF).

Other sightings of the elusive bird species include a Philippine eagle couple and a juvenile within the Mount Apo Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) recorded by PEF’s field biologists in November.

The local government of Lupon in Davao Oriental as well as other conservation programs like the Philippine Eagle Foundation aided by DMCI Homes are making sure that the giant bird of prey remains protected amid the pandemic.

The Philippine Eagle Makilala Hiraya was safely returned to her home forest in July after being in the care of PEF for two months.

Dr. Miguel David De Leon, eye surgeon and director of the Robert S. Kennedy Bird Conservancy, shared his own photos of the Philippines’ endemic wildlife including the Philippine eagle which he described as emblematic.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to conservation programs that have resulted in a new family of Philippine eagles found in Davao Oriental!

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Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.