Why ‘Haring Ibon’ is a ‘mother’ too

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Nest20160517As we recently celebrated all the mothers last May 8, we realized their importance in every family. In lieu of this, we at Haribon Foundation share five similar traits that make the Philippine Eagle the best mother too—just like yours and mine.

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1. They wait for the tamang panahon (right time).

Before a female Haring Ibon starts her journey to motherhood, they enjoy being single for half a decade. They reach sexual maturity at around five years, two years earlier than males which mature at seven.

2. Ligawan (Courtship) stage is mandatory every breeding cycle.

Haring Ibon pairs exhibit courtship displays at the start of every breeding cycle. Courtship entails mutual soaring flight over their nesting territory, dive chases where the female dives diagonally with the male following in pursuit, and mutual talon presentation where the male spreads its talons to the females back and the female flips over to reciprocate.

3. They prepare for motherhood.

Female Haring Ibons are larger than their mate. This characteristic is shared among raptors (a group of birds that feed on other animals) or birds of prey and other animals including fishes.

This trait is not shared by most birds where males are often larger. There are several hypothesis that try to explain this characteristic. One of them suggests that the reason why females need to be larger is because they need to accumulate fat reserves in order to produce their eggs. Another possible reason why they need to store reserves is because they do not hunt as much food as they normally do while they are incubating eggs and brooding young.

4. They are monogamous.

A pair of Haring Ibon bonds for life. They will only look for another partner if their current mate dies. So there is indeed forever when it comes to these magnificent birds!

5. They invest time and effort to ensure their child’s future.

Females spend much more time incubating the egg than their mates. Incubating the egg is a shared responsibility but is mostly done by the females. Males spend less than a third of the time that is needed to incubate the egg. After the egg hatches, females are chiefly responsible for feeding the chick for the first three weeks of its life.

Taking care of the offspring is shared responsibility by both parents until the young becomes independent. The parents provide their young provisions until they can hunt on their own. They also protect the young from crows and hornbills until the offspring can defend itself.

Clearly, a mother Haring Ibon is an awesome nanay when it comes to nurturing its offspring. Sadly, their population is fast declining because of rapid deterioration of the Philippine’s remaining forests. A pair of Haring Ibon parents need 7,000 to 13,000 hectares of forest to call their territory to feed and rear a chick successfully. The need for such an expanse means that the species is particularly vulnerable to deforestation which is continuing at an alarming rate in the country. It takes two years for a pair of Haring Ibon to complete its breeding cycle which makes its inherent breeding characteristics unfavourable to its precarious survival.

We salute the resilience of Haring Ibon especially the Haring Ibon nanays who diligently perform their role as mothers and continue to do whatever it takes to survive for their offspring’s future.

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Haribon Foundation currently implements the Philippine Eagle Project in Mt. Mingan which is made possible with funding and support from Birdlife International, Toyota Foundation, Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) fellowships of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – Edge, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit Protected Area Management Enhancement (GIZ-PAME), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the local government units of Gabaldon, Dingalan and San Luis. For more information about Philippine Eagles in Luzon, please email: wildlife@haribon.org.ph.

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