The Philippine Eagle is a brown and white plumed eagle native to rain forest in the Philipines. Though regarded as the Philipines' national bird it is also one of the world's most critically endangered and the killing of a Philippine eagle is currently punishable by 12 years jail time. Also termed the monkey eating eagle due to the bird's penchant for hunting and eating macaques monkeys, the Philippine eagle is immensely powerful. Standing at one meter tall and weighing up to 4kg, the Philippine eagle is both larger than a golden eagle and adorned with a war like headdress of spiky feathers which lend the species a particularly fearsome appearance.
Indigenous to Philippine tropical forest and mountain environments, the Philippine eagle is perfectly adapted to life in dense foliage. A short but significantly broad wing span allows the Philippine eagle to launch almost vertically in areas of dense tree and canopy cover whilst being able to maneuver with speed and precision between dense forest branches, vines and environmental obstacles usually avoided by other large predatory birds.
Due to the Philippine eagle's unique agility, it is adept at snatching monkeys, other small mammals and other birds, however, the Philippine eagle is also known to prey on sizable domestic animals such as pigs, dogs and young goats.
Once found on nearly all of the Philippines' significant islands, the Philippine Eagle has been completely removed from many of these in recent years in the face of significant natural habitat loss. This being the case, the Philippine eagle presently only inhabits four islands in the Philippines, these being Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. Moreover, the majority of Philippine eagles are confined to just Mindanao, with just six breeding pairs know to exist on Samar, two on Leyte and a few on Luzon.
In total it is believed that fewer than 200 Philippine eagles currently exist in the wild.
Like birds of prey the world over, one of the chief threats to the Philippine eagle is hunting. Seen as a trophy bird for aspiring hunters, the Philippine eagle is also considered a blight to domestic animals as well as a competing predator for other humanly valuable prey species. Indeed, when firearms first became publicly available in the Philippines in the aftermath of World War One, Philippine eagle populations began to decline sharply.
However, because of the Philippine eagle's position at the very top of the Philippines food chain, the species is also markedly susceptible to pollution. Like predatory bird species around the world, the Philippine eagle was resultantly significantly effected by the twentieth century use of DDT based pesticides which caused both thinner egg shells, cancer and malformed chicks.
One of the most significant current threats to the Philippine eagle though is habitat loss. Nearly 80% of the Philippines' tropical rain forest has been deforested since the 1970's in order to make way for urban and agricultural development. This being the case and with Philippine eagles requiring 133km2 of habitat just to raise a single chick successfully, it is unlikely that the species will be able to endure much further habitat loss or rebuild upwards from its current population.