Every second Sunday of May, the entire humanity celebrates Mother’s Day to give recognition and pay homage to mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well the positive contributions that they make to society. Do the birds celebrate Mother’s Day too?
The mother eagle started picking up some leaves, cutting off some small branches and laying down these twigs around the chick. At first we could not fathom what she must be doing, but the tribal chief said the mother is blanketing her baby with leaves and twigs to protect it from the creeping cold. Yet the baby was not easy to sleep. It got up and crawled to its mother’s breast who dearly cuddled it up until it began to sleep.
It came out of its shell on December 23, 2013 heralding a new hope for the vanishing breed of the largest and most majestic eagle in the world – the Great Philippine Eagle. It is the world’s rarest raptor, albeit critically endangered because of the continuing loss of its natural habitat, the country’s old growth forests, and hunting, though illegal remains rampant and unchecked.
Like a praetorian guard, the mother eagle didn’t move its feet even a bit nor changed position for the entire day. It was amazing to see it stood still with only the head turning to watch over the horizon before it or to see moving creatures on the mountain slopes and the air above.
When another raptor passed by above, this mother eagle suddenly became alert with its crest slowly rising to attention. The eyes were fierce-looking and its head slowly following the flight of the raptor above. It was prepared to fly and attack, just to protect its baby and the food behind. It was amazing to see this eagle’s head turn even 360 degrees as it watched over the flying hawk.
As the fog came down engulfing the entire valley and ravine, the mother eagle covered its baby with her wings, like an umbrella over it, protecting it from the rains. Sometimes the rains stopped, but then the fog would come in again. Often times both come one after the other, sometimes they came at the same time, yet the caring mother stool still providing shelter to its baby, making sure that it does not get wet nor feel cold.
The father eagle brought a prey. We could see the red flesh meat on the nest but we could not determine which kind of animal the prey was. It was well clamped on the nest by the mother eagle’s big claws, and slowly its beak pierced the flesh piece by piece and feed it to the hungry chick. If she gets big chunks of meat, she swallowed them all. But when only a little piece was scrapped from the prey, she feed it to her baby. Most of the times, she pierced small pieces which the chick quickly swallowed.
The young eagle is now 129, days old. It was photographed flying from the nest to a nearby branch, and then back again to the nest. It tried to do the same to another branch, as if testing the strength of its wings in lifting its growing body. In a few days, it will fly and soar the skies!
Happy Mother’s Day to the entire creation!
Thanks to Canon Marketing Philippines, Inc. and to Roy De Guzman Daantos for loaning the Canon 1DX body and 600mm II lens.
Thanks also to DENR-BMB led by Director Mundita Sison-Lim, DENR-XI Regional Eagle Watch Team Leader, Barangay Chair, the Tribal Council, and the Bagobo Tagabawa folks for the opportunity and access.
Kudos to Jocer, Aning, Aljo, Nonoy, Toto and others who helped us reach the mountain tops.
Thanks also to the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Region XI.
January 2014, Mt. Apo Natural Park.
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