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Gyrfalcon
Falco rusticolus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Gyr, Gyr Falcon, Jer Falcon.


Falco rusticolus
click to enlarge
Distribution: Nearctic/Palearctic. The breeding range is circumpolar, including the arctic portions of North America (Alaska, Canada), Greenland, Iceland, northern Scandinavia (Norway, northwestern Sweden, northern Finland), Russia, Siberia, and probably south to the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Commander Islands; wintering birds occur south to the midwestern and northeastern United States, United Kingdom, western Europe, southern Russia, central Asia, CHINA (Manchuria), SAKHALIN ISLANDS, KURIL ISLANDS, and JAPAN. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic. more....

Taxonomy: The Gyrfalcon form a superspecies with other members of the subgenus Hierofalco (Kleinschmidt 1901), including F. biarmicus, F. cherrug, and F. jugger (Nittinger et al. 2005), and this group may also include the Black Falcon (F. subniger) of Australia (Wink et al. 2004). Some authors have suggested that the "Altai Falcon" (F. altaicus) is a full species (Ellis 1995), but it is more likely a hybrid between F. rusticolus and F. cherrug (Fox and Potapov 2001). more....

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006) and nomadic in some areas. The high Arctic population is migratory, but the lower Arctic population is sedentary, partly migratory, or dispersive; irruptions occur in connection with ptarmigan peak years (Boertmann 1994).

Habitat and Habits: Inhabits arctic wooded tundra, rocky outcrops, near rivers, lakes and coasts, barren uplands and mountain crags above tree line (Cade et al. 1998). In Greenland, the breeding habitat is steep inland and coastal cliffs, and Gyrfalcons often occurs in settlements and towns during migration and winter (Boertmann 1994). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on birds, especially ptarmigan in the breeding range, but small mammals are also taken. Prey is taken in the air, on the ground, and even from water. more....

Breeding: more....

Conservation: Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International, but apparent population declines have been documented in Greenland (Meltofte 1975, Elander and Blomqvist 1986, K. Burnham pers. comm.). more....

Population Estimates: The European population was estimated at 1,200 to 2,300 breeding pairs by BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council (2000) and later at 1,300 to 2,300 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). Booms et al. (2009) recently eatimated the breeding populaton in Alaska at 546 ± 180 pairs. more....

Important References: 
BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council. 2000. European bird
  populations: estimates and trends. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 10.
  BirdLife International,Cambridge, UK.
Booms, T.L., N. Clum, and T.J. Cade. 2009. Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus. In
  A. Poole and F. Gill (eds.), The Birds of North America no. 114. The Academy
  of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and American Ornithologists' Union,
  Washington, D.C. doi:10.2173/bna.114
Burnham, W.A., and W.G. Mattox. 1984. Biology of the peregrine and
  Gyrfalcon in Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland, Bioscience no. 14.
Cade, T.J. 1960. Ecology of the peregrine and Gyrfalcon populations in
  Alaska. University of California Publications in Zoology 63:151-290.
Cade, T.J., P. Koskimies, and O.K. Nielsen. 1998. Falco rusticolus
  Gyrfalcon. BWP Update 2(1):1-25.
Ciesielski, L. 2007. [The Gyrfalcon]. Neue Brehm-Bücherei no. 264. Westarp
  Wissenschaften, Hohenwarsleben, Germany. (In German)
Cramp, S., and K.E.L. Simmons (eds.). 1980. Handbook of the birds of
  Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: the birds of the Western
  Palearctic. Vol. II. Hawks and buzzards. Oxford University Press, Oxford,
  UK.
Dement'ev, G.P. 1960. [The Gyrfalcon (Falco gyrfalco L.)]. Neue Brehm
  Bücherei no. 264. A. Ziemsen Verlag, Wittenberg, Germany. (In German)
Ford, E. (ed.). 1999. Gyrfalcon. John Murray Ltd., London.
Koskimies, P. 2006. Action plan for the Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) in
  Europe. Pp. 70-79 in P. Koskimies and N.V. Lapshin (eds.), Status of raptor
  populations in eastern Fennoscandia: Proceedings of the Workshop 8-10
  November 2005, Kostomuksha, Karelia, Russia. Karelian Research Centre of the
  Russian Academy of Science Finnish-Russian Working Group on Nature
  Conservation, Petrozavodosk, Russia.
Potapov, E, and R. Sale. 2005. The Gyrfalcon. T & AD Poyser/Yale
  University Press, New Haven, CT.
more....

Sites of Interest:
The Peregrine Fund
Field studies in Greenland.
VIREO
Gyrfalcon photos.
Middle East Falcon Research Group
Promotes many aspects of falcons and falconry.
europeanraptors.org
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations.

Researchers:
Berry, Robert
Booms, Travis
Burnham, Kurt K.
Cade, Tom J.
Davis, Kate
Ellis, David H.
Franke, Alastair
Franklin, Jon
Gjershaug, Jan Ove
Heinrich, William R.
Johansen, Kenneth
Johnson, Jeff A.
Koskimies, Pertti
Linthicum, Janet
McIntyre, Carol
Pokrovsky, Ivan
Potapov, Eugene
Ritchie, Robert J.
Sandfort, Cal
Varland, Dan

Last modified: 1/31/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2014. Species account: Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 24 Apr. 2014








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