Length : Gyrfalcons are longest falcons in world. The males of this species are about 48 cm to 61 cm long. The females of the species are larger than the males of this species. The females are about 51 cm to 65 cm long.
Wingspan : The bird has a full wingspan of 4ft.
Weight : The male gyrfalcons weigh between 805 gm and 135 gm. The females being larger in size than the males weigh more than the males as well. The females weigh between 1180 gm and 2100 gm.
Color : They are mostly grey, white and black. The light gyrfalcons are usually completely white, may be with some tiny black spots on their crowns, sides, and backs. There are black colored bars on their longest wing. They have grey streaks on their underneath sides of the body.
Features : These birds have dark eyes. Their wings are big and pointed. Their beaks are typically notched like falcons.
Picture 1 – Gyrfalcon
Gyrfalcon is a very interesting and elegant bird to observe.
This species is a solitary creature. They interact only during breeding season.
They are usually non-migratory birds but they fly short distances during winters. Mainly scarcity of food necessitates them to fly out of their usual habitat range.
Their flying ability and large size make them almost apex predators.
They target their prey while flying or patrolling.
Gyrfalcons’ calls sound somewhat like “hyaik-hyaik-hyaik”, “kack-kack-kack”.
Gyrfalcons are huge carnivorous birds. They prey on rabbits, small birds, many kinds of mammals, and voles. They even prey on large birds like waterfowl and ptarmigan.
The Gyrfalcon of falcon species is mostly found near Alaska, northern Russia, northern Canada, Iceland, Greenland, and Scandinavia.
These birds tend to inhabit wide and open regions in winters. In general they prefer rocky coastal areas, rivers with rock walls and slopes, rocky mountains and areas with open and stiff cliffs.
Gyrfalcons are almost apex predators in their adulthood. Young and newly born ones are often preyed up on by eagles, foxes and owls. Fully grown adult gyrfalcons rarely have any predator. Only Golden eagles prey on the adult ones. It is observed that the greatest threat to this species of bird is human being.
Picture 2 – Gyrfalcon Photo
These birds are huge and very violent. They do not usually need adaptive features as they are almost apex predators, still some of their characteristic features can be measured as their adaptive features.
These birds fly in very high altitude where no other birds fly, apart from eagles. Thus preying the gyrfalcons on flight is impossible for any other animal.
They are ferocious, carnivorous birds. No animal can fight them down.
They stay in rocky and mountainous regions, where not many animals frequent anyway.
Gyrfalcons breed from the age as early as 2years. They use abandoned nests of other such huge birds. The females lay around 3-5 eggs. Males are in-charge of gathering the food and patrol around to protect the all the while the females incubate. Incubation period lasts for approximately 35-38 days.
After hatching out the young birds stay with their parents in the nest for 45-50 days. Even after the young ones leave the nest they still remain dependent on the parent birds for food. These new born birds start learning flying almost after 50 days of age.
Gyrfalcons have been observed to live for about 13 years in the wild. These birds live for about 19 years when bred in captivity.
Migration & Range
Gyrfalcons are not too fond of migrating, but they do so only during scarcity of foods. The ones that inhabit the Arctic region fly down southwards. Sometimes they fly southwards as far as to Germany.
Conservation Status : Least Concern
This species has been authentically listed as the least concerned by IUCN.
Gyrfalcon is a very interesting species of bird to observe. Here are some interesting facts about this bird.
These birds bathe in ice melting water.
This species of bird is not originally migratory in nature. But they are compelled to migrate due to scarcity of food in winter and thus come under the migratory category.
Females of this species are larger than the males in size.
These birds start breeding from a very early age of about 2years.
Most of the gyrfalcon eggs are preyed by other large birds but those which survive they grow up to be apex predators.
I saw a almost all white some brown or black marks on the back and wings Gyrfalcon twice in one week in Niles, Michigan not far from where I live by the St. Joseph River. The first time I saw it it was eating a dead animal on the side of the road. It did not move when I passed by. The second time I saw it it was perched in a tree near the same spot. I stopped the car to get a better look and it flew away. Wing span was at least 4 feet. Never saw one here in Southern Michigan before.