Did you know? Puppets are used in feeding eaglets at conservation shelters

Published January 19, 2022, 12:04 PM

by John Legaspi

Philippine Eagle Foundation shows how it is done

The Philippines, with all its 7,640 islands, can be encapsulated in one view through icons and symbols. There’s the jeepney for the everyday commuters, the patriotic three stars and a sun, the mouthwatering lechon, and must-see sights like Ifugao’s Banaue Rice Terraces and Bohol’s Chocolate Hills. One of its most recognizable icons, the Philippine Eagle, recently made news due to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ newest design for the ₱1,000 bill.

Endemic to the country, the Philippine eagle or the monkey-eating eagle, seen in parts of Luzon, in Samar, Leyte, and in Mindanao, is among the regal icons of the country. With its brown feathers, shaggy crest, and intense blue-gray eyes, the creature is a sight to behold whether it is perched on a tree branch or soaring in the sky. Considered to be one of the largest and most powerful among forest raptors, this bird is a treasure that replaced the maya as the country’s national bird in 1995 through Proclamation No. 615, signed by then-President Fidel V. Ramos.

Sadly, the Philippine eagle is now listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with an estimated number of only 400 pairs left in the wild. That is why conservation groups like the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) are on a mission to keep the species from extinction.

In its latest effort to nurture a new generation of the Philippine eagle, the non-government organization shared a clip on how they feed eaglet Chick 29 in conservation with the help of a hand puppet. The hand puppet, courtesy of Featherdust Studio: the Art of Jennifer Miller, is designed to look like the head of a fully grown Philippine eagle.

“We used puppet rearing to keep Chick 29 from getting used to human presence,” the PEF says. “Limited human contact can help ensure a successful natural pairing with another eagle.”

For over two decades, the PEF has been working to protect the species through programs in research, community-based conservation, conservation breeding, and education. That mission continues until today. You can visit its Facebook page and official website to know how you can help save the Philippine eagle.

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Banner images from the Philippine Eagle Foundation.