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Above: Grey morph Gyrfalcons are most common to Manitoba - Photo by Christian Artuso

What Does It Look Like?
This impressive falcon is our largest species, with females being larger than males.  They have a long tail and a moustache.  Gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus) occur in three colour morphs, grey (the most common morph in North America), white, and brown.  The grey morph can be uniform grey above, or banded grey and white.  The white morph is speckled black and white above.  Some individuals look almost black.  Juveniles are variable in colouration.

Where Does It Live?
Gyrfalcon breed in the arctic and subarctic tundra of Canada and Alaska, near food sources such as seabird or waterfowl colonies, or areas rich with ptarmigan (a major food source).  Nests are often found on cliffs.

Above: Grey morph Gyrfalcon - photo by Christian Artuso

Does It Migrate?
Far northern breeders migrate to southern Canada and the northern tier states of the USA for the winter. 

Where Can I See It?
Gyrfalcons may occur in open areas (such as farm fields), coursing low over the ground or perched on utility poles, fence posts or on the ground.  They can also sometimes be found in wooded areas.

Above: Grey morph Gyrfalcon - photo by Christian Artuso

Gyrfalcons are thought to be of low conservation concern in Canada.  Climate change may be a major threat to this species in the future.  Increased human activities in these northern areas may also impact nesting success (nest site abandonment).  Falconry, trapping and shooting are conservation issues in other areas of the world.

Did You Know?
In steep hunting dives, it is thought that Gyrfalcons can reach speeds that exceed 70 meters per second.

Above: Grey morph Gyrfalcon - photo by Christian Artuso