Gyrfalcon

Gyrfalcon

Falco rusticolus

Least Concern

Renowned as the world's largest falcon, the majestic Gyrfalcon is a bird of the harsh Arctic tundra. This striking raptor, swathed in a cloak of white, black, and gray, is a symbol of the unforgiving northern landscapes. Renowned for its power and endurance, the Gyrfalcon is a solitary hunter, its lethal stoop admired across cultures and continents.

Appearance and Identification

Males and females have similar plumage

Primary Color

White

Primary Color (juvenile)

Gray

Secondary Colors

Black, Gray

Secondary Colors (female)

Secondary Colors (juvenile)

White, Black

Secondary Colors (seasonal)

Wing Color

White

Wing Color (juvenile)

Gray

Beak Type

Short

Beak Color

Black

Beak Color (juvenile)

Black

Leg Color

Yellow

Leg Color (juvenile)

Yellow

Distinctive Markings

Black streaks on chest and belly. Sexes similar plumage, but distinguishable by size, with females being considerably larger.

Distinctive Markings (juvenile)

Darker than adults, with less distinct markings

Tail Description

Long, broad, and square-ended

Tail Description (juvenile)

Less square-ended

Size Metrics

48cm to 64cm

Length

105cm to 140cm

Wingspan

769g to 2.15kg

Weight

Photos

Click on an image below to see the full-size version

Vocalization and Sounds

Primary Calls

Loud, raucous 'ki-ki-ki-ki-ker'

Call Description

Rapid, repeated notes

Alarm Calls

A loud, harsh 'kyaah'

Behavior and Social Structure

Daily Activities

Active during the day, hunting in the morning and evening

Social Habits

Solitary, except during breeding season

Territorial Behavior

Defends large territories, especially during breeding season

Migratory Patterns

Partial migration, with some populations moving south in winter

Interaction with Other Species

Does not typically interact with other bird species

Diet

Primary Diet

Birds, Mammals

Feeding Habits

Hunts from the air, often striking prey in mid-flight

Feeding Times

Morning and evening

Prey Capture Method

Stooping and pursuit

Diet Variations

Varies with location and season, with birds and mammals making up the majority of the diet

Special Dietary Needs (if any)

None known

Nesting

Nesting Location

Cliff ledges, often reusing old nests of other birds

Nest Construction

Sparse, lined with feathers and other soft materials

Breeding Season

Late spring to early summer

Number of clutches (per breeding season)

One

Egg Appearance

Creamy white with brown markings

Egg Size

Approximately 5.7cm x 4.5cm

Clutch Characteristics

1-5 eggs

Incubation Period

Around 35 days

Fledgling Period

Approximately 45-50 days

Parental Care

Both parents involved in raising chicks

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

Circumpolar, found throughout the Arctic and subarctic regions

Habitat Description

Open tundra, cliff faces, and rocky coastlines

Elevation Range

Sea level to mountainous regions, up to 1,500m

Migration Patterns

Partial migration, with some populations moving south in winter

Biome

Tundra, Mountain

Climate zones

Polar, Subpolar

Distribution Map

Please note, this range and distribution map is a high-level overview, and doesn't break down into specific regions and areas of the countries.

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