Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus

Type of Animal:

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

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

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

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:

Breeding from zoos & private breeders

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

Additional Info:

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

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

5 weeks

Life Span:
14-20 years

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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