The Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) is a large bird of prey, and a raptor.
The Gyrfalcon has varied colours, from white to dark-brown. The white Gyrfalcon has flecks of charcoal-grey feathers. Its beak is yellowish and hooked. It has dark eyes. It has feathers on its legs, called boots. Its feet are yellowish with sharp claws.
It is the largest of the falcon species. It measures 48-65 centimetres (19-26 inches) tall, with a wingspan of 110-160 centimetres (43-63 inches). Females are larger than males.
The Gyrfalcon is native to Arctic coasts and tundra on the islands of northern America, Europe, and Asia.
It eats birds, such as grouse, and mammals, such as shrews, squirrels, bats, and rabbits. Most of its prey is killed on the ground, not in the air.
The male Gyrfalcon is called a gyrkin.
It nests on cliff faces. It generally uses abandonned nests of other birds, such as the Golden Eagle or the Common Raven. The female lays 1-5 eggs, which hatch after about 35 days. The chicks leave the nest after 7-8 weeks.
The Gyrfalcon can live to about 20 years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM