My little friend, the Gyrfalcon, taken at Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, Washington (USA).
The Gyrfalcon — Falco rusticolus — is the largest of the falcon species. The Gyrfalcon breeds on Arctic coasts and the islands of North America, Europe, and Asia. It is mainly resident there also, but some Gyrfalcons disperse more widely after the breeding season, or in winter. The Gyrfalcon is dispersed throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, with populations in Northern America, Greenland, and Northern Europe. Its plumage varies with location, with birds being coloured from all-white to dark brown.
The gyrfalcon is a very large falcon, being about the same size as the largest true falconbuteos. Males are 48 to 61 cm (19 to 24 in) long, weigh 805 to 1350 g (1.8 to 3 lbs) and have a wingspan from 110 to 130 cm (43 to 51 in). Females are bulkier and larger, at 51 to 65 cm (20 to 26 in) long, 124 to 160 cm (49 to 64 in) wingspan, and of 1180 to 2100 g (2.6 to 4.6 lbs) weight. The Gyrfalcon is larger than the Peregrine Falcon and differs from the buzzard in general structure, being unmistakably a falcon with pointed wings, and broader-winged and longer-tailed than the Peregrine.
The Gyrfalcon is a very polymorphic species, so its plumage varies greatly. The archetypal morphs are called “white”, “silver”, “brown”, and “black”, though they can be coloured on a spectrum that begins with all-white and ends with very dark. The brown form of the Gyrfalcon is distinguished from the Peregrine by the cream streaking on the nape and crown and by the absence of a well-defined malar stripe and cap. The black morph has its underside strongly spotted black, rather than finely barred as in the Peregrine. White form Gyrfalcons are unmistakable, as they are the only predominantly white falcons. Silver gyrfalcons resemble a light grey Lanner Falcon of larger size. There is no difference in colouring between males and females; and juveniles are darker and browner than the corresponding adults.
The black color seems to be sex-linked and to occur mostly in females; it proved difficult for breeders to get males darker than the dark side of slate grey. A color variety that arose in captive breeding is “black chick”.
Nikon D300 ~ 80-400mm Nikkor lens
f5.6 1/250s ISO 640
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