(Falco rusticolus)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Gyrfalcon breeds in remote tundra habitats across northern Canada. The Christmas Bird Count in Canada, which covers part of the southern portion of the Gyrfalcon's wintering range, suggests wintering populations have shown a moderate increase since about 1970. However, because of the lack of information from the majority of the species' range, this species has been assessed as being Data Deficient. Climate change may become an important conservation concern for this species, because of its specialization on arctic habitats and prey (Booms et al. 2008). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Not at Risk1987 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada5,000 - 50,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

Because they breed in the far north and rarely venture into more developed landscapes at temperate latitudes, Gyrfalcons were not as seriously impacted by pesticides (e.g., DDT) as Peregrine Falcons were (Booms et al. 2008). The birds are still used by falconers, but the limited collection is strictly regulated and has not affected populations in North America (Booms et al. 2008). As an arctic specialist, Gyrfalcons are vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the north (Booms et al. 2008).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Arctic Plains and MountainsArctic Plains and Mountains, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Stewardship
Arctic Plains and MountainsArctic Plains and Mountains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Stewardship
Arctic Plains and MountainsArctic Plains and Mountains, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Stewardship
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Stewardship