DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 January) – An airline company has adopted “Chick # 26,” a month-old Philippine Eagle, the country’s national symbol that the late aviator Charles Lindbergh desribed as “the air’s noblest flier.”
Chick No. 26
Philippine Airlines (PAL) adopted “Chick #26” through a donation of one million Mabuhay Miles over a period of six years to support the Philippine Eagle Foundation’s (PEF) mission of spreading awareness to save the Philippine Eagle and to protect its forest habitat.
In a press statement, PEF quoted PAL president and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista as saying PAL is “committed to help promote the Philippine Eagle’s survival and to ensure protection of its natural habitat.”
Bautista also thanked PAL passengers “for their generous support in donating unused flight miles to our ‘Miles for a Mission’ project. Indeed, they have shown the genuine heart of the Filipino.”
PEF Executive Director Dennis Salvador thanked PAL for the adoption. “Having the nation’s flag carrier on our side helps advance our mission to save our national bird.”
He expressed hope that other organizations and individuals would continue to support PEF’s programs to spread public awareness and understanding on the importance of conservation work.
Companies adopting an eagle are given the privilege of naming the eagle.
“PAL will name the chick soon,” Andrea Baldonado, Fundraising Officer of the PEF’s Development Program, told MindaNews.
PAL is the second airline to adopt an eagle. Cebu Pacific earlier adopted eagle Mindanao.
PEF curator Anna Mae Sumaya said “Chick # 26” is in good health, is eagerly feeding and always wants more of its ration.
“We only give food quantities appropriate for the chick’s age to ensure a normal diet. The eaglet is given 80 grams of ground quail meat, liver and bones per feeding thrice a day,” she said.
The eaglet is currently staying in an air-conditioned room which simulates conditions in the wild. Its handlers say this is important especially since the chick’s down feathers are starting to thicken and develop. The eaglet will soon be transferred to an isolated area for ‘mentoring’. While there, it can observe the activities of an adult eagle so it can properly imbibe the characteristics of its species, the PEF press release said.
Last month, MindaNews reported that the Philippine Eagle Foundations’ Conservation Breeding Program in Malagos, Calinan has produced 26 eagles betweeen 1992 and 2015 – with Chick #26 as the latest to have hatched from a natural pair.
Chick # 26, the first offspring of natural pair Go Phoenix and MVP, hatched on December 7.
Declared as national bird in 1995, the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga Jefferyi) is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
The IUCN said the number of these majestic birds “has seen a steep decline, primarily due to habitat destruction,” noting that since the 1960s, vast tracts of tropical forest had been cleared for commercial development, cultivation and mining activities..
The IUCN also observed that while “a major captive breeding programme is underway in Mindanao… the key conservation need is to prevent any further forest loss within the range of this species.”