This summer I have the privilege of working with the largest species of falcon in the world: the Gyrfalcon. Latin name, Falco rusticolus.
Gyrfalcons are a circumpolar raptor, breeding in the northern reaches of our planet and rarely venturing south. On rare occasions they can be glimpsed farther south during the coldest of winter months. A project initiated by The Peregrine Fund in collaboration with a graduate student at Boise State University has begun to look into Gyrfalcon conservation on the Seward Peninsula of Alaska.
Gyrfalcon breeding is closely tied to their favorite winter and spring prey: Ptarmigan. How Gyrfalcons and Ptarmigan are responding to climate change is a pressing conservation question, especially since climate change is being felt the most in our delicate arctic and subarctic ecosystems.
This summer we will be working to closely monitor Gyrfalcon diet throughout the breeding season. Insights into what Gyrfalcons are feeding their nestlings at different stages of the breeding season (early vs. late) may help us understand the potential impacts of continued climate change on these falcons and their prey.
Looking forward to a great summer and will continue to update folks on how things are going.
Tags: alaska, Falco, Falco rusticolus, falcon, gyrfalcon, peregrine fund, seward peninsula