GyrfalconFalco rusticolus Linnaeus
Status Rare in winter. Although there were only three records in the nineteenth century (first mentioned by Blakiston and Bland 1855) and only 7 more up to 1960, it has become more regular with some 35 individuals reported since that year. The earliest fall arrival was "playing" with a Northern Raven near Tusket, Yarmouth County, on 1 September 1981 (C.R.K. Allen). The latest in spring was a white-phase bird that stayed around Amherst, until at least 20 May 1979 (C. Desplanque et al.). They have been seen most frequently in recent years on the Grand Pre meadows, near Wolfville, around the Amherst marshes, and on Brier Island. Only two have been reported on Cape Breton Island.
Remarks This powerful predator from the north occurs in varying colour phases which range from near-white to almost black, intermediate shades being much more common. It is by far the largest of the four falcons that occur in Nova Scotia.
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