November 17, 2023
MANILA – Government wildlife conservationists documented last week the courtship of a pair of the national bird in the Cotabato province side of Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak.
Shirley Uy, protected area superintendent of the Mt. Apo Natural Park, said the “stunning display of the aerial courtship” of two critically endangered Philippine eagles “was a breathtaking milestone” in the conservation effort of Mt. Apo and of the raptors.
“The courtship between the two eagles has raised the bar in the ongoing efforts to protect and save these raptors,” Uy said.
The natural pairing of the raptors in the wild boosted hopes of eventually increasing their population which is currently estimated at only 392 pairs.
Given the rare raptors’ dwindling population due to various environmental threats, Uy explained that the survival of their kind lies in their ability to produce more offspring.
Uy led a Philippine eagle monitoring team sent to Mt. Apo from Nov. 6 to Nov. 11 to observe the activities of the raptors, the area being known as a host of several nesting sites.
On Nov. 7, the team, which included Arnold Allen Chin, Lucky Jay Naquines, Jayson Serrano and Rufino Iday Jr., were treated to the midair spectacle.
“The male and the female eagles performed aerobatics and locked their talons together as they soared high into the sky to begin their courtship,” Uy said.
She added that during the process, the pair also vocalized what seemed to be distinctive calls to communicate and strengthen their bond as a pair.
“As the courtship progresses, the pair engaged in intricate midair dances, spiraling dives, and impressive maneuvers that highlight their grace and power,” Uy recalled.
The period covering October to December, she said, is the eagles’ breeding season
In one instance, a presumed female raptor perched on a white lauan tree was observed feeding on a Philippine long-tailed macaque brought in by the male raptor, Uy said.
The existence of a breeding pair inside the Mt. Apo Natural Park demonstrates the value of the area as an eagle habitat and attests to the general health of the ecosystem there which gives apex predators like the Philippine eagle access to vital resources like suitable nesting sites and prey species, Uy explained. INQ