Monday, April 22, 2013

Raising Mabuhay

Mabuhay is a two month-old Philippine Eagle produced at the Philippine Eagle Center near Davao City. He represents the second generation of Philippine Eagles to be produced here: his father, Pag-asa, was the first Philippine eagle ever produced in captivity. Little Mabuhay is number twenty-five. Mabuhay is a Tagalog word that means 'live', 'cheers' or 'welcome'.

In the video below, Philippine Eagle Foundation staff are feeding Mabuhay with a puppet that resembles an adult eagle. This will keep Mabuhay from imprinting on his keepers, which would make him non-releasable in the wild. Imprinting occurs during a period of time early in an animal's life, when it forms attachments and develops a self-identity. The puppet will help assure that Mabuhay imprints on Philippine eagles, not human beings. This is important, since birds imprinted on humans will seek them later in life as sexual and social partners. Properly imprinted, Mabuhay will seek other Philippine eagles.

The Philippine eagle lives in forests on eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao. The world's longest bird of prey, it weighs 10 to 18 pounds and measures 2.8 to 3.3 feet in length. It has a dark face, a large bluish-grey beak, blue-grey eyes, and a distinctive nape of trailing light-brown feathers. Adults have dark brown backs with white underparts.

The Philippine eagle is so large that I thought it would spend most of its flight time soaring. While it does soar, it is also amazingly maneuverable for such a large bird. It twists, turns, and folds its wings as it flies through the forest pursuing bats, deer, lemurs, monkeys, birds, flying foxes, giant cloud rats, and snakes and lizards. While the Philippine eagle would be a formidable hunter no matter where it lived, the lack of large predators in its range makes it the dominant hunter in the Philippine forests.  Unsurprisingly, each breeding pair requires a very large home range to successfully raise a chick. A study on Mindanao Island found the nearest distance between breeding pairs to be about 8.1 miles on average, resulting in a circular plot of 51 square miles.

The Philippine Eagle is critically endangered. Only 180 to 500 are believed to survive in the wild in the Philippines. They are threatened primarily by deforestation through logging and expanding agriculture. The Raptor Resource Project has partnered with the Philippine Eagle Foundation to help them save the Philippine eagle through captive breeding and habitat conservation.

Preserving habitat takes money. Today, on Earth Day, we are asking our supporters to make a donation to the Philippine Eagle Foundation to help purchase rainforest habitat in the Philippines for this highly endangered bird. A few dedicated people snowballed into a widespread effort to bring back the Peregrine falcon and Bald eagle in the United States and Canada. We can do the same in the Philippines for the Philippine eagle. To donate to the Philippine Eagle Foundation, please click the button below:

To learn more about the Philippine Eagle Foundation, follow this link:
To learn more about little Mabuhay, follow this link: A Chick At Last

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