Vulnerability: least concern
What is it?
The gyrfalcon is the largest falcon species in the world. Females (with lengths of up to 65cm, wingspans up to 160cm, and weights up to 2.1kg) are larger and much bulkier than males (with lengths of up to 61cm, wingspans up to 130cm, and weights up to 1.3kg). Gyrfalcon colors are largely dependent on region, from white or almost white in Greenland to dark or almost black in more southern regions. In most of the East Atlantic Arctic, the most common morph (silver) is similar to the one presented here on the right: light with dark brown or dark grey patterns on the wings and underparts. In adults, the area surrounding the eyes, the legs, and base of the beak, are bright yellow.
Where is it?
Gyrfalcons falcons are circumpolar. They are residents in Iceland, southern Greenland, and northern Fennoscandia. They are found breeding in eastern and northwestern Greenland, where they are migratory. Some birds are found wintering in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. They are visitors to the Faroe Islands and Svalbard.
- The gyrfalcon has long been associated with royalty. Indeed, it was used in falconry, and because it was so difficult to import to southern regions to be used, it was reserved for nobility.
- Swan hunting with falcons was so popular in China during the 12th century that the emperor introduced a gyrfalcon tax on the tribes that supplied the falcons (the Jurchen tribes). Tax collectors would often procure the gyrfalcon from the Jurchen by force, which contributed to a subsequent rebellion.
- Cover picture: "Gyrfalcon portrait" by Jon David Nelson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
- Presentation picture: "Falco_rusticolus_white.jpg" by Ólafur Larsen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
- BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Falco rusticolus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/12/2021
- Dementiev, G. P. 1960. Der Gerfalke (Falco gyrfalco L. = Falco rusticolus L). Die Neue Brehm-Bücherei, no. 264. A. Ziemen Verlag, Wittenberg, Germany.