email a friend
printable version
Philippine Eagle-owl Bubo philippensis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

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.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

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.

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).

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's 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.

It appears to be a sedentary resident of lowland forest, sometimes 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).

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 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. In 2005 the species was successfully bred in captivity for the first time and by 2007, 10 birds had been captive-bred (Anon. 2008).
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).

Anon. 2008. ...and there's good news from the Eagle Owls too! World Owl Trust Newsletter: 3-4.

Anon. 2008. ...and there's good news from the Eagle Owls too! World Owl Trust Newsletter: 3-4.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Collar, N. J.; Mallari, N. A. D.; Tabaranza, B. R. J. 1999. Threatened birds of the Philippines: the Haribon Foundation/BirdLife International Red Data Book. Bookmark, Makati City.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

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

Allen, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Bubo philippensis. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Philippine eagle-owl (Bubo philippensis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Strigidae (Typical Owls)
Species name author (Kaup, 1851)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 224,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species