Friday, October 22, 2010

A Gyrfalcon Kind of Day

This is a juvenile Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)

Gyrfalcons....well, this was another of my nemesis birds, until a couple Winters ago when I saw a grey-morph adult Gyr sitting on a power pole along Fisherman's Road, west of Estevan.  That one sat only long enough for me to have a look with the bins.  But, as all birders know, it was long enough. 

This is the (edited) email exchange today between Guy Wapple (birder friend and one of the people I sent my pix to for confirmation) and I.

Me:  Is this a juv Gyr?
Guy:  I would say definitely say YES!!!  Is the jinx over?  Story please.....
Me: second Gyr. This, however, will really take over as my major sighting so far.  Good thing there wasn't a lot of traffic on #18 between Torquay and Outram, because I must have been the strangest vehicle on the road in a long time.  While ambling back to Estevan... I saw a raptor on a power pole ahead....I was on alert for I drove up slowly, had the camera ready and snapped this photo before I looked with the binocs.  Bird flew on 3-4 poles.  A truck passed me, the bird flew back in the other direction, I turned around, met another truck, caught up with the bird again pole-sitting, this went on (back and forth) twice more, with me being more and more convinced of the Gyr Factor (and people who may have been watching, of the Nut Factor).  Finally the bird got sick and tired of me and flew off across the field to the south of the highway. 
Edward Brinkley's NWF Field Guide to Birds of North America, says:
Gyrfalcon is a relatively rare raptor of Arctic habitats; it only occasionally leaves the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska.  It hunts birds as large as geese, usually simply by chasing them down.  The world's largest falcon, it averages twice as heavy as Peregrine Falcon.  The species varies in color, from white to very dark brown birds.  Most adults in North America are lead gray above, and juveniles are medium brown above.


  1. Congrats on seeing this guy Kathy ! Nice image !

  2. Yes, very well done. With that small crop showing she must have had a recent meal. Good job.


  3. Thanks, Samuel. It does look as if this bird has had a pretty good meal, doesn't it.