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It's a Bird, it's a Plane, it's... POW!

Gyrfalcons (juhr-fall-kons) are the most northerly of the falcons, making their home in Arctic Europe, Asia, North America and Greenland. Although some migrate in the coldest winter months, they usually go no further south than the northern USA or central Russia. They prefer open country, and the tundra is ideal.

Once known in Europe as jer-falcons, gerfalcons, Greenland falcons or Iceland falcons, these "raptors" are powerful and agile hunters. Gyrfalcons seldom use the diving tactic of peregrine falcons to catch their prey - they fly at such great speeds that they simply overtake other birds in full flight (their favorite is the Arctic ptarmigan), and snatch them out of the sky!

Such hunting ability made them highly prized by falconers. Gyrfalcons were the falcons of kings - lesser nobles might have peregrine falcons, while servants made do with mere kestrals.

When the Norse first colonized Greenland, gyrfalcons were a valuable "export" and were in great demand by traders who dared to venture out from medieval Europe.

Greenland gyrfalcons were so valuable that, in 1396, just twelve of these birds were enough to free the Duke of Burgundy's son after he was captured by the Saracens during the Crusades and held for ransom. ("Dear Duke: Deliver one dozen unbanded birds in an unmarked cage at midnight, or you'll never see Junior again!")

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