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Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Branch Deuterostomia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Aves
Sub-class Neornithes
Infra-class Neoaves
Order Information
Superorder Falconimorphae
Order Falconiformes
Sub-order Accipitres
Infraorder Falconides
Family Information
Superfamily Falconoidea
Family Falconidae
Sub-family Falconinae
Genus Information
Genus Falco
Species Information
Species F. rusticolus
Population statistics
Population ca. 110,000 (2004)
Conservation status Least concern[1]

The gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) is a bird of prey found in the Arctic, the largest of the true falcons.


Gyrfalcons are large and broad-chested; approximately 22 inches long, with a wingspan of 48 inches. Unlike other falcons, when at rest the folded wings of gyrfalcons do not extend more than two-thirds down the length of the tail, and not to the tail-tip as in other falcons. Females are slightly larger than males.

The gyrfalcon is polymorphic, with three main color phases. Gray is the predominant morph, found throughout much of the range. Dark-gray to black morphs are found in Canada, while white morphs are found in Greenland.


The name has its origins in 14th century Europe. Either Middle English (gerfaucun) or Anglo-French (girfauc) gave us the word, a combination of faucon ("falcon") and the Old High German word gīr (gier, i.e. "vulture")[2]

Range and habitat

Gyrfalcons are primarily found at or within the Arctic Circle during the summer months; in winter they are found further south, but are seldom seen below the 48o parallel worldwide, except as stragglers.