Hunter and Hunted…


I arrived at the Cebu office this morning and got out of the car and one of the crew started talking excitedly “Naay bañog sa kahoy...” pointing up at a tall kapok tree on the property. My Cebuano is getting better by the year, but I had no idea what a bañog was. Then I saw the large bird, an eagle, I thought with wonder and delight; no, maybe a hawk instead, or was it a falcon? I honestly don’t know, but I would guess a fairly nice hawk. It’s the first time I have ever seen a wild hawk this close. And let me reiterate for occasional readers, our office in Cebu is located near the center of the city, a fairly densely populated area. I guess the few large trees on our property are the perfect perch for a bird of this size, and I have to say, it was a thrill to behold…


Turns out it has been sighted several times over the past month or so. It seems to be making a home or at least a pied-a-terre of the kapok tree. It also lands on our molave trees. Our crew have several native chickens running around loose, lately with lots of chicks in tow, and I think the hawk sees his scrumptious meal nearby…


The tree(s) that he seems to favor are roughly 50-60 feet tall, and there are several branches with the quintessential “bird’s eye view” of the surrounding area. Had this hawk been sitting there a couple of years ago, he could have met Mr. Bourdain while he lunched on Lechon under the shade of the same trees…


I told the crew to leave the bird totally undisturbed. And if it was ever caught poaching some of the chicks, I would reimburse them for the chickens. I don’t want want them to scare it away; it’s a really cool thought to have a resident hawk at the office, don’t you think? :)


I realize our resident wildlife expert, Isagarch, has advised against feeding wild birds, but let me tell you the urge to put a couple of young chicks on the lawn for a really easy meal was very tempting… But before we could mobilize chicks, the hawk spread its wings and took off to fly over the neighborhood.


A glimpse of the bird in flight is barely visible in this last photo. If you happen to know exactly what type of bird it is, kindly leave a comment. Thanks. :)

Note: Several of these photos taken by AT, who had steadier hands than I did… :)


39 Responses

  1. Nice find MM. LOL, at feeding with live chicks. That would have been good pics if you managed to lure it. :)

    I think its a “Brahminy Kite” (Haliastur indus). Native to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia.

  2. Reminds me of the saga of PALE MALE in New York’s Central Park which by the way you can watch if you search pale male on you tube. If you are a bird enthusiast you must watch this and there’s a movie coming out soon.

  3. cool! And your curiosity is cooler, MM! that’s a brahminy kite. There are several in d Phil. eagle sanctuary here.

  4. Aww… made me miss our sightings of an owl with this huge wingspan, flying over our subdivision. Our area (in QC pa talaga) is still not as developed–still with vacant lots, trees, lots of grassy areas, not a lot of streetlights–but I guess it still got too developed for it to visit with more people having their houses built now. Brushes with the “wild” part of nature like this are always kinda beautiful and exhilarating, huh? :)

  5. My guess was also a brahminy kite, I loved taking pictures of the ones in Davao. I think where I saw them was the Philippine Eagle center too, basta kung saan nakatira si Pagasa. If I remember correctly, lawin yung local name :)

  6. This is a Brahminy Kite. They are often called ‘Sea Eagles’ but they aren’t the same thing. Banug is the Visayan word. I kept one for a few weeks. It has a strange green beak -…4941.jpg .

  7. We have several like that here, MM! beautiful birds! Caught 2 of our doves, we suspect. There was a day when I saw the hawk swoop at a mouse near our kitchen. The trees are dense at this area and I was really amazed of its very sharp eyesight! But because the mouse was giving out shrieks, our dog checked it out and up flew the banog–majestic and still hungry. The mouse got away.

  8. No kites where I live but I’ve seen an owl and wild quails with chicks at the field beside our house. I live in Metro Manila btw.

  9. So cool! Lucky you…we only have tropical birds pecking on our bamboo trees! :)
    It looks more like a Bald Eagle to me MM :)

    I already left a message with Isa G. and linked this post so she can get back to us about this beautiful bird.

  10. awesome! it reminds me the one time we saw an owl in our garden despite living near ortigas. the owl was injured i think but managed to fly away after a few days.

  11. It IS a brahminy kite! They are also sometimes called a sea hawk or a fish hawk.They are more closely related to a bald eagle (which is really another fish hawk) than they are to a more typical north American red tailed hawk. We have a subspecies of them found in the Philippines. That is a full adult (juvies don’t have that distinctive white head yet) They are certainly a bird of prey,but kites are typically more of a scavenger, with legs not necessarily strong enough to say, take down a rabbit.

    What’s neat about your photo, is catching it perched on the one leg. That’s your bird equivalent of taking a break or stretching out on the recliner. They also sleep with one leg but it would be pulled higher up, almost hidden in it’s dense feathers.

    I definitely don’t advocate feeding wildlife, I think we would all prefer to keep them wild rather than dependent on people. They have all the tools they need to survive.

    It really isn’t unusual to find birds of prey in urban areas, concentrations of people bring with it lots of prey :-) mice, rats, pigeons. The key to spotting a bird of prey on your area, is to of course – look up! Be aware of your environment!

    Great post MM!

  12. haha! very cool! it isn’t everyday that you see ones that are wild like this! unfortunately, in manila, the only wild things that we have here are rats, cockroaches, kiti-kiti, (are these even considered wild?) and an occasional paniki! :)

  13. Beautiful bird! We have white-tailed kites in California, not uncommon where there is open space, even in urban areas. I’ve been told they are called kites because of their characteristic “hovering” flight behaviour when hunting. Kestrels also hover when hunting, although kestrels are the smallest of the falcons and not kites. Here is a video of a kestrel “kiting”:

  14. Speaking of eagles, kites, and birds of prey, I remember an incident 25 years ago at my mom’s house in Forbes Park. I was in my bedroom getting ready for school. The minute I stepped out of my room, I heard a large thud in my bedroom window (which was a huge aluminum sliding window). It was a GRASS OWL that flew right into the closed glass window! The poor thing was rendered unconscious for quite a bit of time. Mom had the driver bring the owl to Carlos Veterinary Clinic where the owl was nursed for a few weeks and then set free.

    Imagine! An owl in the middle of Makati in 1985!!!

  15. I was feeling your excitement as I was reading this, MM. What a thrill indeed. And it does look like a bald eagle, with it’s white head and brown body. Did you name him yet? Or shall we just call him “The Bird” a la “The Teen”, “The Crew”, etc. :-)

  16. Thanks to Isa for the info especially about the tidbit that this bird is on “relax mode.” I used to live in a place called Eagle Heights and twice saw eagles perched on a balcony and tree. Breathtaking.

  17. saw a couple of them living in corregidor….or maybe it’s just one that i keep seeing over and over again :) ….anyway, nice find. i just hope the locals don’t get it into their heads and try to capture it.

  18. Hi MM!
    What a treasure to having a kite in your property. I hope it is left alone by other residents in the area so that it can live in peace, and hopefully, you would have a nesting pair in your property soon!


  19. millet and karina…yup there are several Brahminy Kites at the Philippine Eagle Center, there’s even one who can no longer fly :( he got injured by hunters, i think he was christened Alex..there’s also some being kept at the mini-zoo at Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife, rescued from illegal vendors

  20. In that poor excuse of a zoo near/after Tagaytay City, they have a lot of these Brahminy kites in captivity. I don’t know if these were rescued or captured from the wild but they should have been released after recuperation, if they were rescued or nursed back from injuries. In the conditions they are kept, I know that they would better off in the wild. But then again, they have been so used to human presence and feeding that they will certainly die off if released at this stage. And those tigers ought to have larger cages….

  21. Yes Lawin!I’ve seen them in flight at the Tagaytay area(Taal Volcano site)
    BTW, MM I saw you at Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho last night.You were shown in a clip at the Nora Daza segment as you were munching on Zubuchon skin…it was fast but it was you in close up.

  22. Bird taking a break indeed! I zoomed in on first photo and only noticed its right foot up after reading Isa G’s post. I do hope it stays free and multiply. Thanks for the post MM! Keep us updated when you see it again.

  23. Hi Dodi
    If the birds were found or captured as adults, thay can still be released. They don’t lose the ability to hunt, they may be out of condition from not being able to fly but with exercise to increase their stamina they can definitely survive in the wild.

  24. One of those minor epiphanies that might seem unremarkable to some eyes, but will lodge in your memory and may be recalled long afterwards with wonder. Glad you documented it too with the camera.

  25. denise, I just went through my pictures of Davao and Alex was in fact the first bird I took pictures of when I got there! Then again he was the one situated right at the entrance. So that was why he was one of the–or the only–bird not kept in a cage. Buti na lang he’s in good hands now. The Ninoy Aquino park is so much nearer to me but I’ve never been there, though I’ve heard that the living conditions for the animals there aren’t the best, considering the lack of funding. I just came across a heading on an article stating that the park was going to get revamped, though, so I’m hoping for the best.

    MM, do post if you find some hatchlings! :)

  26. karina…yup he sits there by the entrance… about the Ninoy Aquino Park, there’s a small NGO, MyZoo Foundation helping out the mini-zoo but they can only do so much



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