South Philippine Hawk-eagle Nisaetus pinskeri


Justification of Red List Category
This newly-split forest eagle qualifies as Endangered because its very small population, of which the majority is in two main subpopulations, is undergoing a continuing and very rapid decline owing to lowland forest loss, exacerbated by hunting and trade.

Population justification
The species stronghold is on Mindanao where 320-340 pairs were estimated in the late 1990s (Preleuthner and Gamauf 1998). Given that rapid declines have presumably continued since then, a preliminary population estimate is of a total of 600-800 mature individuals, roughly equating to 900-1,200 individuals.

Trend justification
Deforestation in the Philippines is reported to have been very rapid in recent decades, and it is said that the country lost c.40% of its forest cover in the 20 years between 1970 and 1990 (Uitamo 1999). Data from ESSC (Environmental Science for Social Change) suggest that the area of closed-canopy forest in the Philippines decreased by c.44% between 1987 and 2002 (Walpole 2010). Assuming rapid losses of primary forest over the past 56 years, and impacts from hunting and trapping pressure, it is likely that this species has experienced population declines of more than 50% over the past three generations.

Distribution and population

Spizaetus philippensis is endemic to the Philippines, where there are records from c.60 sites on at least 12 islands (Collar et al. 1999). Since 1980, there have been records from 13 localities on Mindanao and also from Bohol, Negros and possibly Panay that relate to this species. Historically, the species was rare, and the spate of recent records - most of unconfirmed identification - does not change that impression. Although relatively common at one site on Mindanao, it is very scarce on Negros and is very probably already extinct on some smaller islands within its former range (e.g. Siquijor). In the late 1990s 320-340 pairs were estimated on Mindanao (Preleuthner and Gamauf 1998).


It inhabits primary, selectively logged and disturbed forest, occasionally frequenting open areas, from the lowlands to lower mountain slopes, almost exclusively below 1,000 m. It appears not to tolerate much forest degradation. No migration is known.


Deforestation for plantation agriculture, livestock and logging throughout its extensive, predominantly lowland range is the chief threat. In 1988, forest cover was as low as 29% on Mindanao and these figures are likely to be overestimates, with most lowland forest leased to logging concessions. Habitat loss is exacerbated by considerable hunting and trapping pressure.

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions underway
CITES Appendix II. It has been recorded from numerous protected areas, including Mt Canlaon on Negros, Mt Kitanglad and Mt Apo Natural Parks and Mt Malindang on Mindanao, and Rajah Sikatuna National Park on Bohol. These sites are legally protected through local government decrees, but the efficacy of this legislation is often unclear and is ineffective at Mt Malindang and in the Southern Sierra Madre (D. Allen in litt. 2012).

Conservation and research actions proposed
Conduct further surveys in areas from which the species is known (e.g. Mts Cabalantian/Capoto-an on Samar), which may merit formal protection. Study the species's ecology, particularly home-range size and dispersal ability to help inform a global population estimate and assess the likely impact of habitat fragmentation. Promote more effective enforcement of legislation designed to control hunting and trading. Use remote-sensing to assess forest loss in the Philippines and gauge the species's likely rate of decline and degree of fragmentation of its populations. Research hunting and trade by interviewing local people and visiting wildlife markets.


65-70 cm. Medium-sized eagle with longish, black crest. Rufescent-brown crown and face, broadly streaked darker. Dark brown upperparts. Brown tail with 4-5 darker bars. Ochraceous-tawny breast and throat, bordered by dark malars. Black mesial stripe. Plain brownish belly and underwing coverts, with finely barred black-and-white trousers. Pale iris. In flight, shows broad, rounded wings and well-barred flight feathers. Juvenile has white head and underparts, upperparts fringed paler. Acquires adult plumage over four years. Similar spp. Difficult to separate from Barred Honey-buzzard Pernis celebensis and Changeable Hawk-eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus unless seen well. Combination of long crest and feathered legs separates this species and N. philippensis from the above species. N. philippensis is very simlar to N. pinskeri, but has white throat and upper breast and blackish and white barring across lower breast and belly. Voice Loud, disyllabic whistle. Hints Look around forest edge.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Lowen, J., Taylor, J., Martin, R & Symes, A.

Allen, D. & Ibanez, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Nisaetus pinskeri. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2020.