Philippine Eagle-owl Bubo philippensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small, severely fragmented population, which may be undergoing a rapid decline as a result of extensive lowland deforestation throughout its range, plus perhaps hunting. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Owing to this species' requirement for lowland forest it is suspected to have declined rapidly as forests have been widely cleared within its range. However, it can persist in some modified habitats; thus further research is required to compare population densities in different habitats, and to calculate more accurate rates of deforestation.

Distribution and population

Bubo philippensis is endemic to the Philippines, where it is known from Luzon, Catanduanes, Samar, Leyte, Bohol, Mindanao and possibly Sibuyan. Historically it was uncommon and the paucity of recent records suggests that it is now rare, although it is widespread at low density on Luzon and even nests on the fringes of Manila (D. Allen in litt. 2012). Recent records from the Philippine Eagle Center and and Mount Tagabud indicate that the species is still present on Mindanao, despite fears that it may now be very scarce on the island (eBird 2016). 


It appears to be a sedentary resident of lowland forest, sometimes, possibly often, near watercourses, generally below 650 m but occasionally up to 1,250 m (e.g. on Leyte). It tolerates disturbed, selectively logged and secondary forest and even coconut plantations with patches of thick secondary growth. Studies of the species's pellets suggest it feeds on rodents and amphibians (D. Allen in litt. 2012).Incubation lasts 35-37 days, fledging 59-60 days (T. Warburton in litt. 2016).


Extensive lowland deforestation throughout its range will inevitably have had a major and continuing deleterious effect on its population. On Luzon, forest cover in the Sierra Madre has declined by 83% since the 1930s and illegal logging is common at two sites from where there are recent records. A substantial proportion of remaining lowland forest in the Philippines is leased to logging concessions, and mining applications pose an additional threat. Local pressures at Rajah Sikatuna National Park (Bohol), a key site, include illegal tree-cutting, agricultural expansion and soil erosion. Typhoons on Catanduanes in 1987 and 1996 destroyed large areas of forest. Hunting may be an additional threat.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. There are recent records from several protected areas, including the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, Quezon and Mt Makiling national parks on Luzon, Mt Kitanglad and Mt Apo natural parks on Mindanao and Rajah Sikatuna National Park on Bohol. In the 1990s, it featured on a bilingual environmental awareness poster in the Only in the Philippines series. It is the flagship species of the Philippine Owl Conservation Programme, and a conservation breeding programme was developed at the Biodiversity Conservation Center, Bacolod, Negros (T. Warburton in litt. 2016). In 2005 the species was successfully bred in captivity for the first time and by 2016, 18 birds had been captive-bred from three pairs (T. Warburton in litt. 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further fieldwork using playback, to establish its current distribution and status. Propose and designate further key sites as formal protected areas (e.g. central Catanduanes and the Angat watershed). Improve habitat protection measures in existing protected areas, e.g. at Cayapa in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park and the U. P. Laguna Land Grant, in accordance with its official status, and further develop the captive breeding population.  Use nest cameras to study the species's biology and raise interest in Philippine owls (D. Allen in litt. 2012).


40 cm. Largish owl with small ear-tufts. Yellow eyes. Rufous-buff facial disc. Tawny-rufous crown and upperparts with conspicuous dark brown shaft-streaks. Dark brown wings and tail with buff barring. Whitish underparts, washed rufous especially on breast, with bold dark streaks. Subspecies B. p. mindanensis similar though darker. Similar spp. Giant Scops-owl Mimizuku gurneyi is smaller with dark (not yellow) eyes and has very different vocalisations. Voice Long series of bububububub calls fading away at the end and high-pitched screams.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Derhé, M., Lowen, J., Peet, N., Khwaja, N., Martin, R

Allen, D., Warburton, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Bubo philippensis. Downloaded from on 01/10/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/10/2022.