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The World's Largest Falcon

The World's Largest Falcon
Photo Information
Copyright: Ivan Kruys (Argus) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-07-02
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon 400D, Canon EF 300 f4L + Canon 1.4 converter
Exposure: f/10.0, 1/1000 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Falcons - III chapter [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-08-03 0:23
Viewed: 7895
Points: 42
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)
Yes, this is the world’s largest species of falcon and this is the first time it is shown in the wild on TN.

My son was driving. We were approaching the tree-line and he suddenly braked. ‘A Peregrine!’ he said. He backed a few meters and sure enough there was a falcon sitting in the dead top of a spruce. He cursed while he rummaged for his telephoto: he was using his macro when we last stopped. I crept out of the car from the passenger side and took a couple of shots using the car for support.

It was taken against the light in the hazy sunshine. I thought it looked rather dark to be a Peregrine falcon, but before we could take a good look he flew off and Nic did not change his lens quickly enough. He cell-phoned a bird-watching friend of his, who told him that it might be a Gyrfalcon and that they were nesting in the vicinity of a nearby waterfall.

The next day we found the waterfall and we both could take shots of the female that I will show later. When I later examined this shot it turned out that this is a male. I later had to adjust for light levels.

In Sweden the male Gyrfalcon is not only larger but differs from the male Peregrine in having an almost totally dark slate-grey head.

The Gyrfalcon is circumpolar and occurs in three phases, this one that is grey, an almost white in Greenland and N. Canada and a very dark phase in Canada. It is a polar species, being rarely found south of 60 N. In Sweden it is very rare, a few pairs nesting along the Swedish Mountains. Its main prey is ptarmigan, though it will hunt mountain hares and feral pigeons when young birds occasionally wander south. More will be told when I post the female.

I have to thank my son for the opportunity to take this shot and though I never dedicate images to anyone on TN as I value everyone on this site, I dedicate this to Nic who did most of the driving and who helped his old dad to get his breath when climbing up the steeper slopes.

This was taken at a distance of about 15 meters (50ft). After moderate cropping and size reduction the image was adjusted for light and selectively sharpened..

Seabird, Janice, Royaldevon, jusninasirun, sandpiper2, nglen, anilnediyara, jaycee, vanderschelden, kebapci, maurydv, red45, ralfsworld, CeltickRanger, nardophoto, Raptorman, rousettus has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To kebapci: Tesekkür!Argus 2 08-03 11:30
To eqshannon: ThanksArgus 1 08-03 08:13
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi, Ivan,

a great capture of a great falcon!! it must have been a great feeling to see this in the wild (rather than in a zoo) and thanks for your useful and interesting note, too.

Man Yee

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-08-03 1:30]

He's the King of the Castle Ivan.
What a super shot showing him up so high.
Super capture, very good clarity. How exciting to seeit up there,

Hello Ivan,

This is a 'cracking' shot as we say in England, meaning that it is extremely good!

You must have been delighted to see it perched so proudly on that oh-so-interesting tree stump!
Superb details of its plummage and that lethal beak.

Kind regards,
Bev :-)

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2008-08-03 2:12]

Hi Ivan,this is a great capture! I know the difficult regulation of backlight,your is perfect,excellents details and colors,the choice of point of view make a difference! My best compliments,have a nice day,Luciano

Thanks Ivan for sharing this largest falcon with us. The image is tact sharp with perfectly metered shot against the sky. The perch and exposure of the plumage is pleasing in the frame. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend. Regards. Jusni

The size and bad character emphasized by dead branches. Congrats.

I doubt they (gyr) were bred and used in falconry in Ottomans, but there is a reference of white falcon in texts. Must admit that is looks less stocky, darker, and more patterned on face than in this photo than my ideal gyr, so i suspect that it can be a peregrinus. But i am not a professional, so....

Hi Ivan

Congratulations on this impressive male. Came out very well considering the overcast sky. Great sharpness, look at those talons. Good composition.


Hi Ivan,
excellent capture of this bird..
I couldn't have the chance to capture this species yet..
You have managed wonderfully..
Great details..
Very well done..

As I started to read the story noting your son was driving, I was thinking you were going to be the one to spot it. Interesting that he was driving and spotting AND ID'ing as well..they do not fall far from the tree eh Ivan?
Of course I mean the kids, anyway I am always the driver as Jane has never driven..You had time to set your wheels in motion as per settings and such. Looks like a gray'ish day, hence you had good opportunity to cat it with good detail. good on your son for sighting it in this perch which matches it well. And 50 feet with a 300mm good glass lens made the day.
A most impressive bird and image of therein. Just when you think you might lose something, it comes back and bites you on the nose...how winderful for you and of course for all who see it here on TN.


  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-08-03 8:12]

Hi Ivan. Good on your son for seeing this wonderful bird, and a first on TN for you so well done to the pair of you. i shall look forward to seeing the female. You did well with the light to get this one with good detail . well done TFS. with interesting notes..


Hi Ivan.
Congrats on being first to post this majestic bird. Very informative notes and crisp shot. TFS

  • nagraj Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1618 W: 106 N: 3208] (15166)
  • [2008-08-03 8:36]

hi ivan,
this is wonderful bird and you just were lucky to see and photograph. hope to see the female soon. tfs.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-08-03 9:29]

Hi Ivan,

Offspring make the greatest spotters!! A nice dedication to Nic - he earned it. I must admit I have never heard of a Gyrfalcon. How exciting it must be to see this raptor and to get such a good shot. Excellent details of his face and plummage. Nice subtle colors. The pose on top of the tree is fantastic. Congratulations on being the first to post this bird on TN.


Hi Ivan,
Excellent capture of Gyr Falcon. You were very lucky to see it and get pictures this close. Good pose and composition, details very sharp and well retained in bad light.

Hello Ivan,
This time I'll take the identification for granted;-).
Very large indeed. The body has the same size as an Eagle's body, I suppose.
Overexposing a bit is almost a conditio sine qua non.
Great content!

Ciao Ivan,
splendida cattura, eccellente POV e composizione emblematica di questo affascinante rapace, ottima definizione dei dettagli del piumaggio.
TFS. Maurizio

  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2008-08-03 13:49]

Hello Ivan!

Yes, this bird looks really proud and royal. Beautifull pose, looks like taken from blazon. You must be also proud to see and capture such fantastic bird!

Hej Ivan
Excellent shot of this beautiful and amazing bird. You have nice pose, colours and details .
TFS / Hälsningar

Tu cámara tampoco descansa Ivam ! y eso es interesante , ya que nos permite observar trabajos interesantes como este. A pesar del difícil ángulo, luz y distancia, controlas bien la situación. Buena captura por su rareza.
Un abrazo: Josep Ignasi

hello Ivan

your son has a falcon eyes ! (lol),
superb shot of this great bird of prey,
fine POV & framing, superb pose of the falcon,
excellent sharpness and details of its plumage, TFS


Wow! What a great capture! I would be very proud if this picture was mine but I'm proud for you :)! This is a superb bird and excellent picture with plenty of precise details to look at, beautiful pose and well managed exposure under those difficult lightening conditions. Raptors are impressive to see. We have a couple of Peregrine Falcons nesting on the mountain here and one time to another, I can hear and see them flying like lighting in my neighborhood but as they are the fastest flying birds, you'll understand that I never managed to capture one on picture. Best Regards,

Hello Ivan,
Congratulation, you have photographed one of my species preferred. A day I would want to come in Sweden for being able to meet this magnificent falcon.
TFS Angel

Hello Ivan , excellent capture of this magnificient Falcon species .
TFS and good luck .

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