Sacajawea Audubon

Recent Sightings – January 2012

Gyrfalcon - Photo by Lou Ann Harris

This adult Gyrfalcon was spotted recently in the Gallatin Valley.  A relatively rare winter visitor to Montana, Gyrs are the most northern diurnal raptor.  They inhabit circumpolar arctic and subarctic regions, but some birds will move south during fall and winter.  The Gyrfalcon is our largest falcon, and extremely variable in plumage, ranging from nearly pure white to almost uniform dark gray-brown.  The most common coloration we see in North America is an intermediate "gray" plumage.  It primarily feeds on birds, mostly ptarmigan in the far north, but also will take passerines, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl and some mammals such as hares.

Gyrfalcons show pronounced reverse sexual size dimorphism, with males weighing 65% less than females.

This particular bird seemed unfazed by interstate traffic, ambulance sirens and a passing train.

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