Philippine Eagle Vs American Bald Eagle: Battle Of The Giants

The Philippine eagle and the American bald eagle are two of the largest and most powerful birds of prey in the world. With their giant wingspans, massive talons and intense predatory gazes, they capture our imaginations as kings of the skies.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The Philippine eagle is the largest and most powerful eagle, while the bald eagle has a wider distribution and is the national symbol of the USA. The Philippine eagle can weigh up to 18 lbs with a 7 foot wingspan.

The bald eagle maxes out at 14 lbs with a 7.5 foot wingspan.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we will compare the sizes, habitats, hunting techniques, conservation status and symbolism of these two iconic eagle species. Whether your interest is scientific or symbolic, you will learn fascinating details about these apex avian predators.

Size and Appearance


The Philippine Eagle and the American Bald Eagle are both known for their impressive wingspans. The wingspan of a Philippine Eagle can reach up to 7 feet (2.1 meters), making it one of the largest eagles in the world.

On the other hand, the wingspan of an American Bald Eagle is slightly smaller, averaging around 6 to 7.5 feet (1.8 to 2.3 meters).

Length and Weight

When it comes to length and weight, the Philippine Eagle takes the lead. It measures around 3.3 to 3.6 feet (1 to 1.1 meters) in length, while the American Bald Eagle measures around 2.3 to 3.3 feet (0.7 to 1 meter).

In terms of weight, the Philippine Eagle can weigh up to 17.6 pounds (8 kilograms), while the American Bald Eagle weighs around 6.6 to 14 pounds (3 to 6.3 kilograms).

Leg Span

The leg span of the Philippine Eagle is truly remarkable. Its legs can stretch up to 4 feet (1.2 meters), allowing it to grasp and carry its prey with ease. In comparison, the leg span of an American Bald Eagle is shorter, ranging from 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters).


Both the Philippine Eagle and the American Bald Eagle have distinct plumage that sets them apart. The Philippine Eagle features a striking combination of dark brown feathers, a white belly, and a shaggy crest of feathers on its head.

The American Bald Eagle, as its name suggests, has a white head and tail, with dark brown feathers on its body. These unique plumage characteristics make them easily recognizable and iconic symbols of their respective countries.

Habitat and Range

Philippine Eagle Territory

The Philippine Eagle, also known as the “Monkey-eating Eagle,” is endemic to the Philippines, specifically to four major islands: Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao. This majestic bird is most commonly found in the remote, dense forests of the Philippines, particularly in the mountains.

The Philippine Eagle’s habitat preference is characterized by a combination of primary and secondary forests, as well as lowland and montane forests. These eagles are known to have large home ranges, with a single pair requiring an estimated 7,000 to 13,000 hectares of forest area to thrive.

Bald Eagle Range

The Bald Eagle, the national bird and symbol of the United States, has a much wider range compared to the Philippine Eagle. This magnificent raptor can be found throughout North America, from Alaska and Canada to the contiguous United States and northern Mexico.

Bald Eagles are highly adaptable birds and can be seen in a variety of habitats, including coastal areas, lakes, rivers, and even in arid regions. Their habitat preference is often associated with large bodies of water, as they rely on fish as their primary food source.

Geographic Overlap

While the Philippine Eagle and Bald Eagle have distinct ranges, there is no geographic overlap between the two species. The Philippine Eagle’s range is limited to the Philippines, while the Bald Eagle’s range spans across North America.

These two magnificent eagles have evolved separately and adapted to their respective habitats over thousands of years. It is fascinating to see how different environments have shaped their unique characteristics and behaviors.

To learn more about the Philippine Eagle and Bald Eagle and their conservation efforts, you can visit the Philippine Eagle Foundation and the Bald Eagle Info websites, respectively.

Hunting and Diet

Prey Species

The Philippine Eagle and the American Bald Eagle are both apex predators in their respective habitats. However, their diets differ significantly due to their geographical locations and available prey species.

The Philippine Eagle primarily preys on a variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Its preferred prey includes monkeys, flying lemurs, civets, snakes, and large birds such as hornbills. These eagles have also been known to hunt small deer, although this is less common.

On the other hand, the American Bald Eagle predominantly feeds on fish. It is highly adapted to a diet of fish and has been observed hunting for salmon, trout, and other fish species. They are often found near bodies of water, where they can dive down and snatch fish from the surface.

Hunting Strategies

The Philippine Eagle and the American Bald Eagle employ different hunting strategies to catch their prey. The Philippine Eagle is known for its stealth and agility. It perches high up in the forest canopy and patiently waits for its prey to come within striking distance.

Once spotted, it swoops down with incredible speed and accuracy to catch its prey.

The American Bald Eagle, on the other hand, is known for its impressive aerial hunting skills. It soars high in the sky, scanning the water below for fish. When it spots a potential target, it dives towards the water, using its sharp talons to snatch the fish from the surface.

This hunting technique is called “plunging.”

Both eagles have sharp talons and strong beaks that enable them to capture and kill their prey effectively.

Feeding Ecology

The feeding ecology of the Philippine Eagle and the American Bald Eagle also differs due to their respective habitats and prey availability. The Philippine Eagle is a solitary hunter and typically consumes its prey on the spot.

It will tear its prey apart using its powerful beak and consume it immediately. However, if the prey is too large, the eagle will carry it back to its nest to feed its young.

The American Bald Eagle, on the other hand, is known for its scavenging behavior. They are opportunistic feeders and often steal food from other birds or scavenge carrion. They are also known to steal fish from other birds, such as ospreys, by harassing them until they drop their catch.

This behavior is commonly referred to as “kleptoparasitism.”

Breeding and Nesting

Mating Displays

Both the Philippine Eagle and the American Bald Eagle engage in elaborate mating displays to attract a mate. These displays are not only visually stunning but also serve as a way for the eagles to establish their dominance and fitness.

The Philippine Eagle performs an acrobatic courtship flight, soaring high in the sky while engaging in synchronized dives and loops. This display showcases the eagle’s strength and agility, impressing potential mates.

The American Bald Eagle, on the other hand, engages in a mesmerizing aerial courtship display, where the eagles lock talons mid-air and freefall together before separating just before reaching the ground. This breathtaking display is a true testament to the eagle’s grace and precision.

Nest Building

The nesting habits of the Philippine Eagle and the American Bald Eagle differ significantly. The Philippine Eagle constructs its nest high up in the canopy of large trees, usually in remote and inaccessible areas of the forest.

These nests can reach enormous sizes, with some measuring up to three meters in diameter and weighing over a ton! The eagles use branches and twigs to build the nest, which is lined with softer materials such as leaves and moss.

The American Bald Eagle, on the other hand, builds its nest in tall trees near bodies of water, such as rivers or lakes. The nest is constructed using sticks and twigs, and it is lined with softer material such as grass and feathers.

While not as large as the nests of the Philippine Eagle, the American Bald Eagle’s nest can still reach impressive sizes, measuring up to two meters in diameter.

Incubation and Chicks

Both species of eagles take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks. The incubation period for the Philippine Eagle is around 58 to 68 days, while the American Bald Eagle’s incubation period is slightly shorter, ranging from 34 to 36 days.

Once the eggs hatch, the parents continue to provide care and protection for their young. The chicks of both species grow rapidly and are fully fledged within a few months. However, the Philippine Eagle chick stays with its parents for a longer period, often up to two years, while the American Bald Eagle chicks become independent after about 10 to 12 weeks.

It is fascinating to observe these magnificent birds in their natural habitats, engaging in their unique breeding and nesting behaviors. If you have the opportunity to witness their incredible displays and witness the devoted care they provide for their young, it is truly an experience that will leave you in awe.

Threats and Conservation

Historic Declines

The Philippine Eagle and the American Bald Eagle have faced significant threats throughout history, leading to a decline in their populations. The Philippine Eagle, also known as the Monkey-eating Eagle, has experienced habitat loss due to deforestation and illegal logging in the Philippines.

This loss of habitat has greatly impacted the eagle’s ability to find suitable nesting sites and prey. Additionally, hunting and trapping of the Philippine Eagle for its feathers and body parts have further contributed to its decline.

Similarly, the American Bald Eagle has faced its own set of challenges. In the 20th century, these majestic birds were on the brink of extinction due to the widespread use of pesticides, particularly DDT.

This chemical made its way into the eagles’ food chain, causing thinning of their eggshells and reproductive failure. With the ban on DDT in the 1970s and subsequent conservation efforts, the American Bald Eagle made a remarkable recovery and was removed from the endangered species list in 2007.

Current Protections

Both the Philippine Eagle and the American Bald Eagle are now protected under various conservation laws and initiatives.

The Philippine Eagle is considered one of the most critically endangered bird species in the world. It is protected by the Philippine Wildlife Act of 2001, which prohibits the killing, capturing, and trade of the species.

The Philippine Eagle Foundation, a non-government organization, plays a crucial role in the conservation efforts by conducting research, breeding programs, and promoting public awareness.

The American Bald Eagle is protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which prohibits the possession, sale, and transportation of these birds and their parts. Additionally, the species is also protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act.

These legal protections, along with habitat conservation efforts and public education, have contributed to the American Bald Eagle’s remarkable recovery.

Remaining Dangers

Despite the efforts to protect and conserve these magnificent eagles, they still face ongoing threats.

For the Philippine Eagle, habitat loss remains a significant concern. Deforestation continues to be a major issue in the Philippines, resulting in the loss of suitable nesting sites and prey. Illegal hunting and trapping for the illegal wildlife trade also pose a threat to the survival of this species.

The American Bald Eagle faces threats such as habitat loss, pollution, and electrocution from power lines. As human activities encroach upon their habitats, the eagles are forced to adapt or face further decline.

The use of lead ammunition in hunting is another concern, as eagles can be poisoned when consuming lead-contaminated carcasses.

Efforts are being made to address these remaining dangers. Conservation organizations, government agencies, and local communities are working together to protect and restore the habitats of these eagles, enforce wildlife laws, and educate the public about the importance of their conservation.

For more information on Philippine Eagle conservation efforts, visit more information on American Bald Eagle conservation efforts, visit

Cultural Symbolism

The Philippine Eagle and the American Bald Eagle are not only remarkable creatures of nature but also hold significant cultural symbolism in their respective countries.

Philippine Eagle Significance

The Philippine Eagle, also known as the “Monkey-eating Eagle,” is the national bird of the Philippines. It is highly revered and considered a symbol of strength, power, and freedom. This majestic bird represents the Filipino people’s resilience and determination to protect their natural resources.

With its striking appearance and impressive wingspan, the Philippine Eagle stands as a proud symbol of national identity and conservation efforts.

According to the Philippine Eagle Foundation, the eagle’s significance goes beyond its physical attributes. It represents the importance of preserving biodiversity and the need to protect the country’s remaining forests.

The Philippine Eagle is a reminder of the country’s rich natural heritage and the responsibility to safeguard it for future generations.

Bald Eagle Symbolism in America

The Bald Eagle is an iconic symbol of the United States of America. It has been associated with American patriotism and represents freedom, strength, and courage. The eagle’s majestic flight and sharp vision are seen as symbols of the nation’s resilience and the American spirit.

The Bald Eagle’s symbolism dates back to the founding of the United States. In 1782, it was chosen as the national emblem, reflecting the country’s ideals of liberty and independence. Today, the Bald Eagle is widely recognized as a symbol of American identity and is prominently featured on the country’s currency, official seals, and military insignia.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bald Eagle’s recovery from near-extinction is seen as a conservation success story. It serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting and preserving the country’s natural habitats.

The eagle’s resurgence also reflects the United States’ commitment to environmental stewardship and the conservation of its national symbols.

Philippine Eagle Bald Eagle
Common Names Philippine Eagle, Monkey-eating Eagle Bald Eagle
Country Symbol Philippines United States
Symbolism Strength, power, freedom Freedom, strength, courage
Conservation Status Critically endangered Least concern

Both the Philippine Eagle and the Bald Eagle hold immense cultural significance in their respective countries. They symbolize the values, history, and aspirations of their nations, reminding us of the importance of preserving our natural heritage and protecting these magnificent creatures for future generations to admire and appreciate.


In summary, while the Philippine eagle and bald eagle are both massive, powerful apex predators, they differ significantly in distribution, ecology and cultural symbolism.

The Philippine eagle is the larger and more powerful hunter, but faces graver threats from habitat loss and hunting. The bald eagle has rebounded from near extinction to become a proud national symbol of the United States.

Both eagles capture our imaginations as wingspan-boasting, fish-snatching lords of the skies. But detailed study reveals crucial differences between these two iconic raptors.

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