The PEF has successfully produced 28 eagles in the Philippine Eagle Center since 1992 – still a long way off towards augmenting their population in the wild.
But we are polishing our breeding protocols with the goal to produce suitably reared Philippine eagles that behave like wild eagles when they are released in the forest. Captive-bred eagles must also be healthy and fit to thrive in the wild.
We apply cooperative artificial insemination and natural pairing techniques in breeding Philippine eagles at the PEC.
Natural pairing involves introducing male and female Philippine eagles to attempt to pair them for breeding. Most pairings may take months before compatibility takes place, and even then it may take years before successful breeding occurs.
Prospective pairs are placed in an enclosure with a cyclone wire partition that allows male and female eagles to see each other while keeping them safe from any untoward behaviors. Due to their territorial nature, Philippine eagles during pairing attempts may display aggression. Once in a pairing enclosure, the eagles are observed for compatibility.
A pairing attempt can potentially progress to a natural pair when there are no aggressive behaviors from either bird and they display courtship rituals like food and sprig offering. These signal that the birds can be moved to an enclosure without a partition so that they can further bond, copulate, and become lifelong mates.
The Cooperative Artificial Insemination is only used on mal-imprinted eagles. Mal-imprinting occurs when the eagle imprints itself on a subject other than its own kind, for instance, a human.
HOW IT'S DONE
A keeper works with a male eagle and collects its semen when it is ready and then turns the sample over to the lab to check for viability. The semen is then turned over to another keeper who then injects it into a ready female.