- Falco rusticolus
48–60 cm (19-23½ in)
Three basic colour morphs; white, grey and blackish-brown
- Dark primaries
- Dark streaks and bars on underparts
- Yellow legs and feet
- Cere: yellow in adults, blue in juveniles
In Eurasia breeds in Iceland and in the mountains and north of Norway, Sweden and Finland (rare), the north of the Kola Peninsula and coastal Arctic Russia east to Kamchatka. Scandinavian birds are mainly resident year-round, with juveniles more apt to wandering; Russian birds almost all migrants. In winter ranges south to southern Norway, central Finland and across Russia to about 60 degrees north. In the east a rare winter visitor to north-east China and Hokkaido, Japan.
Recorded as a vagrant to most European countries from Svalbard and the Faroes in the north to Portugal, Spain and the Balearics, northern Italy, Switzerland and the Ukraine in the south. Annually recorded in Britain (c.120 modern records), Ireland, and Denmark.
Breeds on cliffs, inland in mountains or tundra river-valleys, or in the far north along sea-coasts; in areas with trees may also breed in old nest of e.g., Rough-legged Buzzard. Migrants hunt over open steppes, marshes or cultivated land.
The male often starts defending the territory in January, even if the female is not yet present. The pair performs flight display over the nesting site before egg-laying starts. Normally, birds are two years old before starting to breed.
In the Western Palearctic, the most important food seems to be Grouse and Ptarmigan.
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
- Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
- Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved June 2016)
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2023) Gyrfalcon. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 5 December 2023 from https://www.birdforum.net/opus/Gyrfalcon
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