Thursday, February 18, 2016

Gyrfalcon (?) at the condo (!)

Early this morning, my lovely lady friend informed me of a big falcon sitting on the nearby condo building - as I lazily rolled around the bed and decidedly not helping with anything...

I eventually got up to take a peek, and this beastly boy was staring back at me. Despite the point-blank views at 40x in my scope (virtually eye level) - I just couldn't quite say what it was. 

I've seen some pretty odd/goofy looking adult and sub-adult Peregrine's in my day. And I also know that falconers occasionally lose crazy hybrids. But it kinda looked like a Gyrfalcon? 

The wings seemed a bit too long, and it really had a Peregrine-Like "helmet" look to it... But it still kinda looked like a Gyrfalcon?

I did what I do best, and started taking a lot of photos. The camera couldn't handle the temperature differences and heat shimmer of the building nearly as well as the scope - so I can't quite share the bird in all of its glory - but you get the idea. 

I've only seen maybe 15 Gyrfalcons in my life, which is not nearly enough (in general), never mind trying to get a handle on all of the variation they show. As far as I can tell, it's an adult - and a "gray morph" - but quite heavily marked for a "gray" bird. And as previously mentioned - a male. 

So all told, I'm thinking it's a legit Gyrfalcon - just a rather Peregrine-looking Gyrfalcon. The overall colour, belly markings and underwing pattern all look quite good for Gyr. Thanks to the magic of digital photography, I present 44 photos below so you can decide for yourself --- or you could even put on your *expert* cap and leave a comment below shedding light on the ID!

It eventually flew east towards Fifty Point CA. Here's hoping it returns. It pooped several times, so seems to be feeding well! 


  1. How is it possible for Gyrfalcons and Peregrine Falcons to look similar?! Why is nothing easy?! Why couldn't it just be white :)

    Gyr? -

    Peregrine -


  2. If you had a way to know the length of that brown ledge, you could kind of extrapolate and get an approximate sizing of the bird. Or if you have photographed other birds on that ledge in the past you can judge the length of it. I know it's kind of impossible.