GYR FALCON. Falco rusticolus
‘The Kings Falcon’ or ‘Kings Ransom’
IDENTIFICATION. The largest of the worlds falcons the Gyr (Jer) is hard to mistake for anything else. The broad wings, long tail and large size separate the Gyrfalcon from the Peregrine. The plumage is extremely variable ranging from nearly pure white to jet black. Generally there are three colour groups or phases. The white phase, the black phase and the grey phase.
DISTRIBUTION. The white phase of Gyrfalcon is generally found in Greenland and the Artic islands of the North America's. The black is found in Canada around Quebec. The grey phase is predominant across the Russian Arctic and Scandinavia.
FOOD. Sea birds, ducks, Grouse and Ptarmigan. Mammals ranging from voles to lemmings and even artic hare. As a falconry bird geese are possible quarry.
BREEDING. Mid April - May. Sea cliffs are the general nesting habitat for this falcon. 3 to 4 eggs laid on rock ledge. Young hatch after 34 - 36 days incubation, leaving the nest just over 4 months later.
SIZE. The largest of the worlds falcons - 51- 56 cm (20-22in)
WEIGHT. 850g-2000g (1lb 14oz- 4lb 6oz)
WINGSPAN. 160cm (63in)
Largest of all the falcon species, the Gyrfalcon is the dream of most falconers', however price can put them beyond the pocket of most. Quarry varies from corvids to gulls, grouse to pheasant, ducks to geese and in days gone by such protected species as Red Kites and Herons.
As with all birds of prey it is best to get the advice of people who regularly fly the bird you wish to have. Dr Chris Eastham a breeder and flier of Gyrfalcons says, "In falconry, gyrfalcons may be successfully flown from the hood or from waiting-on flights. However, they are extremely intelligent birds and must be trained and flown correctly, and in a suitable environment."
NB. If you buy one of these raptors it should be fitted with a closed leg ring and have an Article 10 form with it (any queries check with DEFRA).