Gyrfalcon

ANIMAL:
Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus

Type of Animal:
Falcon

Habitat:
Tundra, bluffs/cliffs along shorelines/rivers/lakes, barren lands (especially those w/ rocky outcrops), mountains, small settlements/towns, rocky seacoasts, offshore islands, taiga forests/edges/margins, northern forest margins/edges, small spruce stands along beaches/dunes, coasts, reservoirs, farmland, grassland, shrubland, river valleys, river areas, sea ice areas, agricultural fields, rocky areas

Location(s):
Arctic, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Continental US (most of Washington, NE Oregon, most of Idaho, Montana, most of Wyoming, N Dakota, N & W S Dakota, extreme NW Nebraska, N Minnesota, N Wisconsin, N & E Michigan, N New York, N New Hampshire, N Vermont, most of Maine), Iceland, Scandinavia, most of Russia, N Kazakhstan, N Mongolia, far NE China

Appearance:
Largest true falcon in world, 3 main morphs-white morph predominantly white w/ black barring on back/wings & white tail, silver/gray morph has white upper body w/ dark streaks & gray tail w/ thin white bands, often resembling Peregrine but paler/larger, dark morph has dark brown upper body, heavily streaked underbelly, pale flight feathers, & dark tail, often resembles Prairie Falcon but larger, all morphs have long broad-based pointed wings & short dark hooked beaks, juveniles often darker than adults, females larger than males

Food/Diet:
Ptarmigan, grouse, seabirds, ducks, geese, swans, ground squirrels, lemmings, voles, hares, rabbits, marmots, shorebirds, songbirds, smaller raptors, corvids, wading birds, arctic fox kits, fish, shrews, poultry, pheasants, cranes

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding from zoos & private breeders

Lifestyle:
Solitary or monogamous pairs, though siblings found in groups of their own as well 

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Tiercel
Female: Falcon
Young: Eyas
Group: Cast/Cauldron/Kettle  

Weight:
Male: 1.775-2.976 lbs
Female: 2.601-4.63 lbs
Young: 11 oz

Gestation:
5 weeks

Life Span:
14-20 years

Height:
Male: 1.58-2 ft
Female: 1.67-2.125 ft

Body Length:
Male: 1.58-2 ft
Female: 1.67-2.125 ft

Tail Length:
Male: 7.7 in
Female: 11.4 in

Main predators of adults are eagles, bears, wolves, & wolverines. Ravens, owls, & foxes prey on young.
 
Sometimes compete w/ peregrine falcons in areas where both found w/ smaller peregrines outcompeting larger gyrs & sometimes killing them.
 
Often breed when temps are still below 0 F in late February.
 
Young stay w/ parents for 3-8 months.

Fun Fact(s):
Have been valued in falconry/hunting for centuries. In Medieval Europe, only kings & high nobility were allowed to possess one.
 
Fairly nonaggressive except during nesting season-they’re highly protective of nests, even dive-bombing people & large predators (like bears & wolves).
 
Name Gyrfalcon may be hybrid of Old High German word gir meaning vulture & Latin falx (farm tool w/ curved blade-referencing hooked talons).

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