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Gyrfalcon Female

Gyrfalcon Female
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/11, 1/100 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Falcons - III chapter [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-08-15 1:53
Viewed: 5199
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 76
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)
My previous post of this species was that of a male. This is the female. My son and I found her in this position on the other side of a small ravine about 100 meters (330ft) downstream from a waterfall. We sat at the edge of the ravine behind a spruce and pointed our lenses through the low hanging branches. She was less than 15 meters (50ft) away

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.

Being the largest species of falcon in the world it is a powerful bird, able to catch up with, and knock down a Ptarmigan in flight. Like most raptors the eyesight is phenomenally sharp. The female is larger than the male and is up to 63 cm (>2 ft) long. The size between the sexes is the main difference, the difference in plumage being slight, with male tending to have a darker head. In Sweden the Gyrfalcon is distinguished from the Peregrine by its larger size, longer tail and darker tones of the plumage.

We waited for some time, putting up with blackfly attacks for the male to arrive with prey for her to take to the chicks. The nest was up on a ledge of the ravine. They don’t construct their own nest and use that of a Raven. After about 20 minutes we gave up, mainly because of the mosquitoes and blackfly. This pair was known to use the same site for several years, the whereabouts being kept to close circles among the local bird watchers in order to prevent commercial exploitation.

The Swedish name is ‘Jaktfalk’, which means ‘hunting falcon’. The gyrfalcon is a much sought after species for falconry, especially in the Middle East and can fetch high prices. Catching these birds for any purpose other than ringing is illegal in Sweden and offenders can be jailed.

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. I used a fairly high shutter speed to ensure getting the whole bird in focus, which unfortunately led to the busy BG being in focus as well. On reflection I should have used the usual f 5.6.

red45, nardophoto, Royaldevon, boreocypriensis, vanderschelden, horia, MMM, robindb, eqshannon, nglen, Raptorman, lousat, maurydv, pekkavalo1, CeltickRanger, Alex99, jaycee, Hans_Cronert, rcrick, ramthakur, cicindela, jusninasirun has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Nilson: ThanksArgus 1 08-15 23:40
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2008-08-15 2:00]

Hello Ivan!

I envy you such meeting and capture. Falcon looks great. Very proud pose and beautifull eye. Well composed with rock. Fantastic bird!

Hello Argus,

What a fantastic bird!
Her plummage details, the glint in her eye and the lethal, curved beak are all sharply recorded.
Very nicely composed.
If I might offer a small suggestion, it might be to isolate the bird alittle from its busy b/g.

Kind regards,
Bev :-)

Hi Ivan,
An other great and moving encounter with this beautifulst falcon. Bravo. Good photo but less the background.

Hello Ivan,
A rare shot. And really close apparently. Birds of prey compared to other birds might no take off immediately for some reason; they are the predators after all...
This is just a hypothesis though; maybe there's another reason you could get so close...
Well done

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-08-15 3:38]

Hi Ivan

Wow! You sure were very lucky...15 meters from a standing falcon?!? How often does that happen? :))
Great job here, my friend and a splendid capture!
The pose, details and colors of the falcon are great and very well rendered. Even if you had to deal with rather bad light conditions - your subject was in the shade while the BG was illuminated brightly - you managed to get the best details and textures out of both.
I don't know the real conditions, but maybe a little shallower DOF might have worked better...just a thought. Even so, you should be proud for such a catch.

Bravo and TFS

  • Great 
  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2008-08-15 3:59]

Hi Ivan,

A great capture of this falcon,good sharpness and details considering you were 15 mtrs away,well done and tfs this rare one (on TN),


Wow! It's this bird again! This female looks so good! I like this lightning; it'is almost like you were using flash and it has something very particular. Details are sharp in good composition and catch-light! Greetings,

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2008-08-15 6:24]

IHi Ivan
Nice capture.Good POV and sharp image.Plumage detail is excellent and I also like your subject pose.
TFS Michel

  • nagraj Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1618 W: 106 N: 3208] (15166)
  • [2008-08-15 7:32]

Hi Ivan,
great capture of this wonderful falcon. i agree with Horia about the BG and Dof, otherwise its a worthy image. tfs.

Hej Ivan,

A proud bird taken well with plenty of DoF and good detail.
Well done


You are a wealth of information on birds...especially hawk types and raptors or if that is redundant then so be it. I really love these birds and they are all over here where I live...even more than in the wilderness...with exception we had many more Bald Eagles which are quite easy to ID...and with all I have I have a hard time ID'ing...like a Red-Tailed Hawk you told me about a few days ago..I wouldn't have known...too many sub species I guess...and this of course is a fine and classic pose which I shall probably never come close to...but I have learned that when I say that...it happens:-)

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-08-15 9:34]

Hi Ivan. What luck to find the female after seeing the male. You were able to get so close. Alowing you a very good picture of the huge bird. Its feet look very big. Great detail in the feathers with natural colours. well done TFS. Interesting notes too.

You and Ulla have a nice weekend.

Excellent capture of this rare beauty , TFS Ivan .

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-08-15 11:22]

Wow! That's a great capture, the pose is excellent and the sharpness is fantastic, a perfect shot, thanks!


Hello Ivan
This is a fantastic capture...Very interesting notes as well...I can see why you went for the best available shutter speed but the f11 in my opinion hasnt created a to busy background..Its easy to reflect how you have taken the shot after the event...But in my opinion you captured the subject superbly.
All the Best

Hello Ivan this has to be one of your best images, this bird is just magnificent... details, colours and composition, all excellent. I saw one of these birds in Finland several years ago, the image has remained with me for a long time, but this has refreshed it so well. stunning!! regards h

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2008-08-15 12:50]

Hi Ivan,isn't easy to found words to comment a beauty like that,the details and the colors are impressive,just my best compliments for this 1st class pic,have a nice day,Luciano

  • Vinster Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 91 W: 5 N: 185] (789)
  • [2008-08-15 13:21]

Hello Ivan
An excellent capture - you must have been so excited to be this close to such a magnificent bird. I must admit that when you posted the shot of the male I thought you had got the ID wrong and it was a Peregrine. However, after looking at many images I was surprised to see just how variable this species can be - and your identification is correct!

Well done on a terrific shot, the light is well balanced, the focus is good and the background conveys a wonderful sense of the habitat the bird is in.
Kind Regards

Ciao Ivan,
splendida cattura, bellissima ambientazione ed inusuale posa con ottimo POV quasi frontale, ottima gestione del contrasto di luce, buona nitidezza.
TFS. Maurizio

Hi Ivan

This is the best picture of a falcon that I have see in TN. Good colors, detail, and sharpness, the composition is fantastic. We can see a Falcon in a pose very natural.

Hi Ivan,
You did not have much time to catch the photo if it was that close. It was about to leave any moment, so you did not have much time to consider the settings. In that light the picture is just perfect. You just have to concentrate on getting the bird sharp and everything else to post processing. I don't think the BG is too much disturbing. You could obviously add blur or replace the BG but the result would then possibly look unnatural. Anyway, the bird is completely in focus and correctly exposed, details are pin sharp and we can see a BG. Excellent work.

hello Ivan

WOW ! what a excellent shot of this falcon with his superb pose,
fine POV, DOF and framing, excellent sharpness and details,
the Gyrfalcon being againts daylight (en contre-jour) you managed
superbly your camera with getting superb details of his wonderful plumage,
i love the expression on his eye, TFS


  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-08-15 23:46]

Hi Ivan.
I understand your feelings when you have met this beauty. And I understand your feelings when you managed to catch it so perfectly. Superb exposure despite the shadow on the bird and light BG. I like great DOF and sharpness of the entire scene. Well done and TFS.

Hi My beloved friend Ivan,
An another superb shot from your excelent photographic accumulation my friend! Great shot in all around as usual.

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-08-16 4:14]

Hello Ivan, Very nice and superb shot. The falcon looks great and with the posture it has the majestic look. As Greg said it is proud to be a falcon. Lovely composition. Ganesh

Bonjour Ivan
Très belle prise de ce faucon, excellente netteté et couleurs, très bon cadrage et sujet.
Amicalement Robi

Hi Ivan

I think you were lucky just to getthis close to this impressive raptor, never mind shooting her. A great result, though I think the background is somewhat busy. Nevertheless, she's an impressive bird.


  • Great 
  • izler Gold Star Critiquer [C: 1387 W: 3 N: 9] (44)
  • [2008-08-17 1:07]

merhaba ivan
bu güzel yırtıcıyı oturuken gayet başarılı kadrajlamışsın
bakış açısı, ışık, renkler ve netlik harika olmuş
eline sağlık

Hello Ivan,

Beautiful capture of this elegant bird. Good composition. Very good POV and focus. You were lucky to see this beautiful bird so close. Nice light and natural colours.

Hello Ivan,
The photos of the Gyrfalcon are very nice shots of an impressive bird!
The photos you have got of the adult birds, sitting calm, but
strict observing, watching there nest, must be every bird photographers
dream. The photos are very good and you point out the choice one often have
to handle. That is to try to get good and sharp motifs and also sharp background
OR a sharp motifs and a soft, pleasant background. It´s not easy to compromise.
So, congratulations to the lucky trip to the Swedish mountains this summer,
with good shots of both the gyrfalcon and the bluethroat.
Best regards

hello ivan,
very nice picture, the eye contact is lovely and the pose is good, you have handeled exposure well in difficult lighting conditions,
nice composition,
tfs & regards

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-08-17 9:04]

Hi Ivan,

An exceptionally beautiful shot of this Gyrfalcon. Amazing to get within 50 feet of her. The pose is wonderful. Details are razor sharp from top of her head to the tip of her tail. I love her face - she seems to have a softer expression than most raptors. The yellow eye ring is wonderful.


  • Great 
  • efsus Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 415 W: 11 N: 843] (3947)
  • [2008-08-17 23:09]

Merhaba Ivan,
Çok etkileyici bir yırtıcı kuş fotosu. Ters ışık ve olumsuz koşullara rağmen hoş bir kare. Eline sağlık.

Hej Ivan
This one is really good one! Really sharp details on the bird, natural colours and cool pose. Well done!
TFS / Hälsningar

Dear Ivan,

A wonderful capture of this amazing looking falcon, the detail and the markings in the plumage are stunning, the composition is perfect, really nice work, well seen and captured, all the best,

Cheers Rick :)

I find aperture value quite apt for this sharp image of a female Gyrfalcon, Ivan.
The details including that catchlight in the eye are perfect.
The busy BG lends a good depth of view to the image, IMHO.
I thought you had no pest flies and mosquitos in your country, especially in the north.
Thanks and regards.

wow, amazing to see this one, TFS Ori

You were really lucky Ivan! So close to so beautiful predatory Falco! Wonderful picture with great clarity and sharpness.
All the best from Lodz,

Hello Ivan. My eyes are attracted to the head with very good focus on the eye and beak. Beautiful perch and well calculated framed. You have worked the meter well exposing the plumage beautifully in the composition. I like it and thanks for sharing. Best regards. Jusni

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-08-25 9:59]

Hello Ivan,
From the last weeks I had a lot of photos to work off. This one I enjoy very well. What a beauty in an excellent exposure. It's on my favourite list. Very good quality in all aspects!
Kind regards,

Hi Ivan. That's a powerful looking bird. You really lucked out finding it. You captured the colours in great sharpness. I would like to see a narrower DOF just for fun to see a blured background. All in all a spectacular picture. Keep 'em 'comin. TFS Trevor

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