The Philippines is a series of islands in Southeast Asia. The islands are off the southeast coast of China, north of Indonesia. There are more than 7,600 islands that make up the country making for a variety of different isolated ecosystems. You can imagine some of the island house animals that are only native to their specific island. When it comes to birds, the Philippines has a wide range of resident and migratory birds. There are the beautiful Palawan peacock-pheasant, colorful Philippian trogon, and the bright green Philippian hanging parrot. With a variety of amazing birds, how does a country choose just one as its national bird? Wait until you see what the Philippines chose and you will understand. Read on to find out all about the national bird of the Philippines!
What Is the National Bird of the Philippines?
The national bird of the Philippines is the Philippine Eagle. The Philippine eagle is one of the largest eagles in the world! They stand about 3 feet tall (that is as tall as your kitchen counters) and have a wingspan of 6.5 feet wide. Unfortunately, these eagles are one of the most endangered birds in the world today. According to the IUCN, there are only 180-500 individuals still alive today.
Why Is the Philippine Eagle the National Bird of the Philippines?
The Philippine Eagle is a symbol of strength and bravery. Its nickname is the “lord of the skies”. This unique eagle only lives in the Philippines, making it a national treasure and worthy representative as the national bird of the Philippines. In 1995, President Fidel V. Ramos signed an official proclamation making the Philippine Eagle their national bird.
What Is a Philippine Eagle?
The Philippine eagle has a distinctive look with an impressive headdress of brown-streaked white feathers that encircle the head. The chest feathers are bright white and the wings are dark brown with a cream-colored border. A strong black beak with a curved sharp end helps the birds devour their prey. The females are actually a little larger than the males, sometimes by 10%.
How Big are Eagles?
Eagles range in size from the larger Philippine eagles, which can be as tall as 3 feet, to the smaller serpent eagle, which can be around 16 inches tall. Wingspans of the largest eagles are as follows:
|Martial Eagle||8.5 feet|
|Stellar’s Sea Eagle||8.3 feet|
|American Bald Eagle||8.2 feet|
|White-tailed Eagle||7.8 feet|
|Golden Eagle||7.5 feet|
|Wedge-tailed Eagle||7.5 feet|
|Verreaux’s Eagle||7.7 feet|
|Harpy Eagle||6.5 feet|
|Philippine Eagle||6.5 feet|
Why Is the Philippine Eagle Called the “Monkey-eating” Eagle?
The Philippine eagle used to be called the monkey-eating eagle because natives thought that these massive eagles only ate monkeys, but that is untrue. They eat a variety of small mammals, birds, and reptiles like flying squirrels, snakes, bats, other birds of prey, and even small deer. Philippine eagles also eat monkeys like macaque and researchers have studied how they hunt together in pairs with one creating a distraction and the other swooping down to catch the prey.
Is the Philippine Eagle on the Flag of the Philippines?
No. The flag of the Philippines is red and blue with the top half royal blue and the bottom half crimson red. There is a large white triangle on the hoist side that represents equality, liberty, and fraternity. In the center of the triangle is a large yellow sun. The sun has 8 rays surrounding it each representing one of the 8 provinces. Each point of the triangle has a yellow star in it representing the three main island groups of the Philippines. The Philippines adopted the current version of the flag on February 12, 1998.
What Is on the Coat of Arms of the Philippines?
The coat of arms does feature an eagle but it is not a Philippine eagle. Four sections comprise the shield of the coat of arms, with the bottom two sections featuring animals. The one on the left is a North American bald eagle representing the United States and the one on the right is a lion representing Spain. Both Spain and the United States once controlled the Philippines before their independence on July 4, 1946.
Is the Philippine Eagle Featured on the Money of the Philippines?
Yes. The Philippines had a series of coins from 1983-1994 called the Flora and Fauna Series. They featured a variety of beautiful wildlife and plants of the country. The national bird, the Philippine eagle, was on the back of the 50¢. Other animals and plants represented in this series include:
- 1¢: Imperial volute, a sea snail or marine gastropod mollusk
- 5¢: Sander’s Vanda, a pink orchid known as the “Queen of Philippine flowers”
- 10¢: Philippine goby, one of the smallest fish in the world, tropical fish that only gets to be .9cm-1.1 cm long (you could fit nearly two end to end on a U.S. penny!)
- 25¢: Graphium Idaeoides, a butterfly that looks the same as the paper kite butterfly
- 50¢: Philippine eagle
- ₱ 1: Mindoro dwarf buffalo or tamaraw, lives on the island of Mindoro, 3.2-3.4 feet tall at the shoulder
- ₱ 2: Coconut tree
What Other Animals Live in the Philippines?
Other animals that live in the Philippines include the wide-eyed Philippine tarsier. These are small primates about as long as a dollar bill. They have unusually large eyes and long fingers with disc-like pads on them for clinging to branches. They launch from tree to tree similar to lemurs.
Speaking of lemurs, flying lemurs also live in the Philippines. They look like a cross between a flying squirrel and a bat! Flying lemurs glide on their outstretched skin for a record 230 feet! They are also called colugo.
Do you want to snorkel with a million sardines? Then head to Panagsama Beach in Moalboal where the Sardine Run in Moalboal occurs. Millions of these silvery, 6-12 inch fish form dense schools just off the coast.
Off the coast of the Palawan Islands, you might catch a glimpse of the dugong sea cow, similar to a manatee that can get to be 650 pounds!
Around the islands of Oslob, Leyte, Donsol, and Tubbataha, you may see some enormous whale sharks. These slow-swimming, large-mouth sharks are not a threat to humans and are considered “gentle giants”. The largest ones can get up to 39 feet long!
What Is the National Animal of the Philippines?
There is no official national animal of the Philippines, but the carabao is a symbol of the Philippines and is frequently referred to as the national animal. The carabao is a type of water buffalo that is native to the Philippines. They have large horns that curve backward and live near swamps or water holes. Carabaos are an important animal used by farmers to help with planting rice and other farm work. There is even carabao racing, a sporting event where powerful carabaos pull their riders on a large wheeled cart.
What Is Being Done To Protect the Endangered Philippine Eagle?
The IUCN has stated that there are only 150-500 Philippine eagles left in the world. This means they are “critically endangered” and at risk of going extinct in the wild. There are several protected areas that have been created to provide a safe home for the remaining birds. The Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Apo Natural Parks on Mindanao and the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park on Luzon have protected areas. The Philippine Eagle Foundation runs the Philippine Eagle Centre in Davao City, Mindanao, where they house 32 eagles and run a captive-breeding program. Various education programs have been implemented to teach students and local communities about conservation issues.
The national bird of the Philippines is highly respected and needs to be protected so that future generations of Filipino people can enjoy this majestic bird. Hopefully, ongoing diligence will protect the current populations and allow them to prosper in the future.
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