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Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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BirdLife Species Champion SOF
BirdLife Species Guardian Haribon Foundation (Luzon)
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This long-lived species qualifies as Critically Endangered because it has an extremely small population, as a result of extremely rapid declines in the past three generations (56 years), owing to extensive deforestation. Recruitment to the adult population currently appears to be very low indicating that declines may continue into the future. Confirmation of trends is required and may lead to a change in status in the future.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

86-102 cm. Huge eagle with large, deep bill and elongated nape feathers forming shaggy crest. Dark face, creamy-buff crown and nape with black shaft-streaks. Rest of upperparts dark brown. White underparts and underwings. Pale grey iris, dark grey bill, yellow legs with huge dark claws. Juvenile as adult but upperpart feathers fringed pale. Voice Loud, high-pitched whistles. Begging juvenile gives regular series of high-pitched cries. Hints Generally unobtrusive. Adults occasionally display on warm mornings. Listen for begging juveniles which are dependent on parents for many months.

Distribution and population
Pithecophaga jefferyi is endemic to the Philippines, where it is known from eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. Mindanao supports the bulk of the population, with recent research estimating 82-233 breeding pairs (Bueser et al. 2003). Estimates from other islands are of six pairs on Samar and perhaps two on Leyte, and at least one on Luzon (Ranada 2015); but these should be considered precautionary figures (Collar et al. 1999). An earlier estimate using 1992 forest-cover data suggested 226 mature individuals, with a total population, including immatures, of c. 350-670 birds. Extrapolations across all islands based on the density of nests located on Mindanao suggest a total of 340 pairs; however, it is unknown whether the species reaches similar densities on the other islands, particularly Luzon, and this figure should perhaps be treated with caution (Miranda et al. 2008). Poor recruitment to the breeding population was previously thought to be a key factor in this species's decline (Miranda 2006), but recent research suggests that the dispersal and survival of juveniles and subadults is of greater concern (Miranda et al. 2008). The first release of a captive-reared bird took place in 2004 when a male was released into the forest of Mount Apo, Mindanao (Block 2004). Unfortunately this bird was electrocuted nine months after release, and another rehabilitated bird released on Mindanao in 2008 was killed by a hunter four months after release, but further experimental releases are planned (J. Ibanez in litt. 2008, Philippine Eagle Foundation 2008), preceding a full scale reintroduction programme to supplement wild populations (Salvador and Ibañez 2006).

Population justification
Bueser et al. (2003) estimated the population on Mindanao to number 82-233 pairs. Numbers elsewhere are tiny: perhaps six pairs on Samar, two on Leyte and probabaly very few on Luzon, giving a total population size of perhaps 90-250 pairs, or 180-500 mature individuals, roughly equating to 250-750 individuals in total.

Trend justification
An extremely rapid decline is suspected to have taken place over the last three generations, based on rates of habitat loss in the past (given this species's presumably long generation length), which are on-going.

It inhabits primary dipterocarp forest, particularly in steep terrain, sometimes frequenting secondary growth and gallery forest (but not occupying open canopy forest), from lowlands to at least 1,800 m. On Mindinao the primary prey species is the Philippine Flying Lemur Cynocephalus volans, which is absent from Luzon where the species was found to prey on two endemic species of Cloud Rats (Hurrell 2014). A range of other prey are taken, including palm civets Paradoxurus, snakes, monitor lizards, birds, bats and monkeys (Clark et al. 2015). Estimates based on the distribution of nests in Mindanao suggest that each pair covers an average of 133 km2, including an average of 68 km2 of forest (Miranda et al. 2008). On Mindanao, eagles begin nesting from September to December in primary and disturbed forest, with some differences in the timing of breeding between Mindanao and Luzon (Ibañez et al. 2003). A complete breeding cycle lasts two years, with successful pairs raising one offspring (Ibañez et al. 2003). Birds form a monogamous bond for life with sexual maturity for females at around five years and for males at around seven years (J. Ibanez in litt. 2008). The young fledge after c.4-5 months, but stay in the nest vicinity for almost a year and a half (J. Ibanez in litt. 2008). Captive birds have reached more than 40 years of age (J. Ibanez in litt. 2008).

Forest destruction and fragmentation, through commercial timber extraction and shifting cultivation, is the principal long-term threat. Old-growth forest continues to be lost rapidly, such that as little as 9,220 km2 may remain within the eagle's range. Moreover, most remaining lowland forest is leased to logging concessions. Mining applications pose an additional threat. Uncontrolled hunting (for food and, at least formerly, zoo exhibits and trade) is perhaps the most significant threat in the short term (Miranda et al. 2008). Naive juvenile birds are easily shot or trapped, as are adults nesting near forest edges (J. Ibanez in litt. 2008). Birds are also vulnerable to accidental capture in traps intended for wild pigs and deer, and there are several records of individuals caught in snares presumably whilst hunting on the forest floor (J. Ibanez in litt. 2008). Pesticide accumulation is another potential but unproven threat which may reduce its already slow reproductive output. Severe weather events, such as Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, may have an impact on the species (De Win 2013).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. Since 1970, various initiatives have been launched, including the passing of legislation prohibiting persecution and protecting nests, survey work, public awareness campaigns, captive breeding and a socio-economic project to alleviate pressure on an eagle territory whilst increasing local economic prosperity. It occurs in several protected areas including the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park on Luzon, and Mt Kitanglad and Mt Apo Natural Parks on Mindanao. A Philippine Eagle Foundation exists which runs the Philippine Eagle Centre in Davao City, Mindanao and oversees captive-breeding efforts and monitoring and conservation of wild populations (Salvador 2004); in 2008, there were 32 eagles at the centre, 18 of which were captive bred, and the Foundation is working towards the development of a full reintroduction programme (Philippine Eagle Foundation 2008). In 2015 a Philippine Eagle Foundation survey team found the first active Philippine Eagle nest in Apayao province, Luzon (Ranada 2015). Slash and burn agriculture is regulated by a local ordinance in the forest in which the active nest was found on Luzon, and 'green guards' are used to protect the forest habitat (Ranada 2015). Haribon Foundation, the Species Guardian has implemented an extensive program of education and outreach throughout Luzon, including engaging science teachers to develop a module including information on biodiversity and conservation with the Philippine Eagle as the flagship species (Haribon Foundation in litt. 2013). The project has engaged with 1,200 students and two indigenous communities (Hurrell 2014). Participation at regional events and radio broadcasts have also taken place (Haribon Foundation in litt. 2013).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Conduct further research into distribution, numbers, ecological needs and threats. Extend the protected-areas system to embrace known eagle nests and habitat. Implement habitat management schemes for the benefit of wildlife and local people. Integrate eagle-friendly practices into forestry policy. Launch a campaign to engender national pride and respect for the eagle. Develop support for the Philippine Eagle Conservation Plan at the local level (Haribon Foundation 2013). Investigate genetic differences between birds on Luzon and those on Mindanao, Samar and Leyte and take findings into account when planning releases of captive-bred and rehabilitated birds (Miranda et al. 2008). Implement further research and develop conservation actions for the species in the Sierra Madre mountains (Haribon Foundation 2013).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Block, E. 2004. A species extinct in zoos - the Philippine eagle. International Zoo News 51: 340-343.

Bueser, B.L.L., Bueser, K.G., Afan, D.S., Salvador, D.I., Grier, J.W., Kennedy, R.S. and Miranda, H.C. 2003. Distribution and nesting density of the Philippine eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi on Mindanao Island, Philippines: what do we know after 100 years? Ibis 145(1): 130-135.

Bueser, G. L. L.; Bueser, K. G.; Afan, D. S.; Salvador, D. I.; Grier, J. W.; Kennedy, R. S.; Miranda, H. C. 2003. Distribution and nesting density of the Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi on Mindanao Island, Philippines: what do we know after 100 years? Ibis 145: 130-135.

Clark, W.S., Sharpe, C.J., Boesman, P. and Marks, J.S. 2015. Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Collar, N. J.; Mallari, N. A. D.; Tabaranza, B. R. J. 1999. Threatened birds of the Philippines: the Haribon Foundation/BirdLife International Red Data Book. Bookmark, Makati City.

De Win, S. 2013. Typhoon Haiyan left parts of the Philippines behind as a wintery landscape typically found in temperate climates only! Available at: (Accessed: 16/06/2015).

Haribon Foundation. 2013. Preventing Extinctions Programme - Philippine Eagle Report - August 2013.

Hurrell, S. 2014. The king of the birds. World Birdwatch 36(3): 16-19.

Ibañez, J. C.; Miranda, H. C. J.; Balaquit-Ibañez, G.; Afan, D. S.; Kennedy, R. S. 2003. Notes on the breeding behavior of a Philippine Eagle pair at Mount Sinaka, Central Mindanao. Wilson Bulletin 115: 333-336.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Miranda Jr. H.; Salvador, D. I.; Bueser, G. L. 2008. Updates on the nesting biology and population status of the Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi.

Miranda, H. C. 2006. New insights on the population ecology and survival of the Philippine Eagle based on radio-telemetry. Wings without borders: IV North American Ornithological Conference, October 3-7, 2006, Veracruz, Mexico, pp. 225. American Ornithologists' Union, Waco, TX, USA.

Philippine Eagle Foundation. 2008. Philippine Eagle Foundation 2007 annual report.

Ranada, P. 2015. First active Philippine eagle nest in Luzon found in Apayao. Rappler. Available at: (Accessed: 27/07/2015).

Salvador, D. 2004. First release of a captive-bred Philippine Eagle. Peregrine Fund Newsletter no 35: 8.

Salvador, D. J. I.; Inabez, J. C. 2006. Ecology and conservation of Philippine Eagles. Ornithological Science 5(2): 171-176.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Species Guardian Action Update

The Peregrine Fund - Philippine Eagle Conservation Project

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Lowen, J., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Martin, R & Ashpole, J

Ibanez, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pithecophaga jefferyi. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author Ogilvie-Grant, 1897
Population size 180-500 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 146,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species