Fun Gyrfalcon Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 08, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Gyrfalcon facts are absolutely mindblowing to read.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.2 Min

The gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) is considered to be the largest falcon in the world. These falcons live in the Arctic environment and prefer to stick to the Northern Hemisphere of the world.

They look stunning mostly because of their polymorphic bodies. Females of these birds are usually said to be bigger in size as well as in weight than males.

There are many places in the north where one can find the gyrfalcon. The UK, Canada, Norway, and many other parts of North America, and Russia have a good number of gyrfalcons as their dwellers.

These birds are usually residents of the northern parts, although a few juveniles might travel a little south during the winter season. Here's an interesting fact that most of the readers probably don't know about gyrfalcons, these birds love to bathe in ice-melting cold water.

There are a lot of other interesting details about gyrfalcons, read on to know more about these birds. To know more about similar species, check our articles on prairie falcon and saker falcon.

Gyrfalcon Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a gyrfalcon?

The gyrfalcon is a kind of bird that belongs to the Falconidae family of animals.

What class of animal does a gyrfalcon belong to?

These Falco rusticolus birds belong to the Aves class of animals.

How many gyrfalcons are there in the world?

The gyrfalcon population size is around 20,000 to 50,000 individuals across the world.

Where does a gyrfalcon live?

The gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) are birds of prey that are found in the regions of North America, like eastern Canada, and Greenland and is usually limited to the northern parts of the United States, like Alaska. Many other places are also home to the gyrfalcon.

Iceland, Russia, Finland, and Asia are a few of those additional places where these birds are found.

What is a gyrfalcon's habitat?

The most favorable habitats of these birds of prey are around the alpine tundra, taiga, and Arctic forests. They are usually spotted around the coastlines, beaches, open prairies, and fields where they can pick up prey while taking a flight. They are also seen near reservoirs, farms, and grasslands, as well as near river valleys.

Who do gyrfalcons live with?

These birds of prey are known to be solitary birds who prefer to hunt and forage alone. These birds are seen together in breeding pairs only during the breeding season and then after the season, they again go back to their solitary life.

How long does a gyrfalcon live?

This species of bird can live up to around 20 years.

How do they reproduce?

These birds are considered to be monogamous and the pair starts to go towards the nesting sites around late winter. Male falcons are known to defend their nest sites from predators, peregrine falcons, or any other birds.

This nest is usually situated on cliff faces or in conifer tree nests that have been abandoned by common ravens or golden eagles.

These birds have a breeding season from early March to late April. The breeding range is usually focused on the northern side of the world.

During this period, the female travels to the nesting area and tries to bond with the male for six weeks. After this, the female lays around two to a maximum of seven eggs. The female incubates these eggs for most of the time while the male assists her whenever needed, especially for feeding and hunting.

After incubating the eggs for around a month to 35 days, the eggs hatch. The chicks leave the nest after a span of 10 to 15 days to live their life.

What is their conservation status?

Climate change has impacted a huge chunk of the population of these birds. Even then this species of gyrfalcons are listed in the Least Concern category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Gyrfalcon Fun Facts

What do gyrfalcons look like?

Gyrfalcons are polymorphic and are said to have a spectrum of plumage colors ranging from white to an all-dark shade. These birds have a similar body structure to that of falcons.

They have pointy big wings that connect with the long tail. Most of them have back and dark-colored wings which might look like either a black or brown form of plumage. These feathers are patterned with spots or stripes.

This species can be distinguished with the help of the cream-colored streaks on their crown and their malar stripe. Females of gyrfalcons are usually larger in terms of size than males.

A Gyrfalcon.

How cute are they?

These birds of prey are surely stunning especially when they are seen in flight. The young ones can be considered one of the cutest nestlings among all birds.

How do they communicate?

These falcons have sharp eyesight and they use it well to their advantage to communicate with each other by visual means. They are also tactile and vocal and might use touch senses and different 'kak-kak' calls to communicate.

How big is a gyrfalcon?

Just as the Falco peregrinus is considered the higher-flying falcon, the gyrfalcon is considered to be the largest falcon in the world. This bird can grow as big as 19-25.2 in (48-64 cm) with a wingspan of around 48.4 in (123 cm). This species of falcon is twice the size of the American kestrel.

How fast can a gyrfalcon fly?

These gyrfalcons are one of the fastest-flying birds. They can fly at a speed of 50-68 mph (80.5-109 kph) and has a maximum diving speed of 130 mph (209 kph).

How much does a gyrfalcon weigh?

Female gyrfalcons are heavier than male gyrfalcons. Considering both their weights, they have a common weight range of 28.1-74 oz (0.8-2.1 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Females don't have a different name, but as they are birds, they can be called hens. Males on the other hand are called gyrkins based on ancient falconry references.

What would you call a baby gyrfalcon?

A baby falcon is called an eyas.

What do they eat?

Gyrfalcons are strong when it comes to hunting during a flight or on the ground. They use their sharp eyesight to spot prey and go behind it in a chase until it wins the prey over.

They usually hunt in open areas so that their prey cannot hide in trees or bushes. Their major source of food are birds, squirrels, hares, and mice.

Are they dangerous?

As this bird is known to live in secluded and far-off lands, there haven't been records of this bird harming humans. Although the species of falcons is dangerous when it comes to their prey and food.

Would they make a good pet?

Even though a few gyrfalcons have been kept in captivity for ages by the falconers, it is considered illegal to keep this wild bird as a pet.

Did you know...

Even though this bird is not supposed to be kept as a pet, there were a few places that sold them to fetchers. These birds have been known to be bred and then sold at a hefty price of around $250,000.

What is the gyrfalcon best known for?

Gyrfalcons are known as the largest and one of the fastest falcons in the world. Apart from this, these birds of prey are known as hunter-birds who have very rare encounters with natural predators, keeping them at the top of the worldly food chain.

How did the gyrfalcon get its name?

This bird has its scientific name with Latin roots. The Latin word means 'countryside dweller' which suits perfectly as gyrfalcons seek secluded open-field spaces as their habitat.

However, their common name has its root in the old German language meaning 'vultures'. This name again suits them perfectly for their sharp eyesight, powerful stature, and prey-killing tactics. The word 'Gyrfalcon' is pronounced as 'Jur-fawl-Kuhn'.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including sea eagle, or shikra.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable gyrfalcon coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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