Facts About the Philippine Eagle - The Monkey-Eating-Eagle
FACTS ABOUT THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE – THE MONKEY-EATING-EAGLE
The Philippine Eagle, Pithecophaga jefferyi, also known as the great Philippine eagle or monkey-eating eagle, is among the tallest, rarest, largest, and most powerful birds in the world. A bird of prey belonging to the family Accipitridae, it is also known as "Haribon" or "Haring Ibon," which means "Bird King". Its local name is banog.
The species was discovered in 1896 by the English explorer and naturalist John Whitehead, who observed the bird and whose servant, Juan, collected the first specimen a few weeks later. The skin of the bird was sent to William Robert Ogilvie-Grant in London in 1896, which initially showed it off in a local restaurant and described the species a few weeks later.
Upon its discovery, the Philippine Eagle was first called the monkey-eating eagle because of reports from natives of Bonga, Samar, where the species was first discovered that it preyed exclusively on monkeys; from these reports it gained its generic name, from the Greek pithecus ("ape or monkey") and phagus ("eater of"). The specific name commemorates Jeffery Whitehead, the father of John Whitehead. Later studies revealed, however, that the alleged monkey-eating eagle also ate other animals such as colugo, civets, large snakes, monitor lizards, and even large birds like horn bills. This, coupled with the fact that the same name applied to the African Crowned Hawk-eagle and the South American Harpy Eagle, resulted in a presidential proclamation to change its name to Philippine Eagle in 1978, and in 1995 was declared a national emblem. This species has no recognized subspecies.
Way back in 1978-1979, I communed and lived with the dumagat, native of the Sierra Madre Mountain; we spotted the eagle flying around the jungle of Sierra Madre several times. Some side of the jungle dwell ample of the local monkeys.
A recent study of the Philippine Eagle's DNA suggests that the bird has a unique evolutionary history. Its genetic sequence differs from those of other large eagles. Researchers from the University of Michigan analyzed the DNA isolated from blood samples of the Philippine Eagle. The sequence was then compared to those of the Harpy Eagle, Crested Eagle, and the New Guinea Harpy Eagle. All three are related genetically but they are not closely related to the Philippine Eagle. These species were once believed to be closely related due to their similar sizes, habitat, and habits; however, these similarities are now believed to be the result of convergent evolution. It is actually believed that the closest relative to the Philippine Eagle may be the much smaller snake eagles.