Philippine Eagle

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The Philippine Eagle, Pithecophaga jefferyi, also known as the Great Philippine Eagle or Monkey-eating Eagle, is among the rarest, largest, and most powerful birds in the world. This bird of prey is endemic to forests in the Philippines, where it is the national bird.[2] It has numerous local names, including Haribon, Haring Ibon (which means "Bird King") and banog.[2][3] Killing this critically endangered species is punishable under Philippine law by twelve years in jail and heavy fines.[4]

Contents

Taxonomy

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.[5] The skin of the bird was sent to William Robert Ogilvie-Grant in London in 1896, who initially showed it off in a local restaurant and described the species a few weeks later.[6]

Upon its discovery, the Philippine Eagle was first called the monkey-eating eagle because of reports from natives of Bonga, Samar [1] 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").[7] The specific name commemorates Jeffery Whitehead, the father of John Whitehead.[6] 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 hornbills. This, coupled with the fact that the same name applied to the African Crowned Eagle and the Central and 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.[8]

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