National Save the Eagles Day: Several Species Face Extinction as Bald Eagles Resurge

by Jon D. B.
(photo by Tim Chapman)

From the gigantic harpy eagle to the national symbol of the Philippines, dozens of eagle species remain endangered this National Save the Eagles Day.

Every January 10, the U.S. celebrates National Save the Eagles Day to raise awareness for endangered species most in need of our help. Conservationists across the country come together to appreciate all efforts on behalf of these majestic birds of prey. And the more time passes, the more crucial this day becomes.

Regardless of species, eagle habitat is disappearing on an hourly basis. And while the bald eagle (official emblem of the U.S.A. since 1789) has become one of America’s greatest conservation success stories, their cousins aren’t so lucky.

The majority of eagle species range from threatened to critically endangered. It’s not just habitat loss taking these soaring raptors from our planet, either. Poaching, pesticides, and rodent poisons play a prominent role in their decline, too.

All of the above is why National Save the Eagles Day became a national day of observance in 2014. We have a study by Skymark Development Corp to thank for it, and this January Outsider is doing our part by highlighting a handful of the eagle species who most need our help.

National Save the Eagles Day: The Harpy Eagle

A Harpy Eagle in the Panamania Rain Forest. This is a large female that has a seven foot wingspan and weighs about 16 pounds. (photo by Tim Chapman)

The Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) is one of the largest and most powerful eagles in the world. According to the Encyclopedia of Life, harpy eagles are classified at Near Threatened (Population decreasing) status. This is in large part due to their reliance on large tracts of undisturbed lowland tropical forest. Once found from Mexico to Ecuador, harpy eagles are now primarily found in Brazil due to habitat loss. This same habitat loss is also killing off their main food sources: sloths and monkeys.

The Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle, Aquila clanga, immature India . (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Greater Spotted Eagle or Indian Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga) is currently under the IUCN’s Vulnerable category and thankfully less close to extinction than many of their cousins. They earn a spot on this National Save the Eagles Day list, however, due to a rapid decline of their numbers in recent years. Habitat loss (specifically forest clearing) is to blame for their plight, too. As their name suggests, these mid-sized eagles are native to India and South-East Asia where deforestation is a grave concern.

The Philippine Eagle

Philippine eagles partner with human ‘mates’ as part of the captive breeding program, which also uses artificial insemination. (Photo by Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Found only in the Philippines, The Philippine Eagle is the island nation’s national symbol. These incredible eagles are also Critically Endangered under the IUCN and have been teetering on the brink of extinction for decades. Deforestation and poaching are this raptor’s biggest threats. Their immense length (the longest eagles in the world) makes them ill-equipped to fly from island to island to find new homes.

The Steller’s Sea Eagle

In addition to their great size, Steller’s sea eagles are remarkable hunters. (Photo by Yuri Smityuk\TASS via Getty Images)

The Steller’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) is currently under Vulnerable IUCN conservation status. Their numbers are declining rapidly like so many of their cousins. They’re also the heaviest eagles on the planet; with max specimens weighing over the Philippine and harpy eagles above. Only 5,000 or less of these remarkable raptors remain in the wild. In addition to habitat loss, Steller’s also face grave challenges from overfishing and industrial pollution.

To help preserve our incredible eagle species this National Save the Eagles Day, visit the American Eagle Foundation and learn how you can help.