[Tweeters] Gyrfalcon - Enumclaw Plateau, King county

Aquila Chrysaetos ladyhawk707 at msn.com
Fri Jan 1 16:06:51 PST 2016

On Wednesday (12/30/15) Kevin Steiner spotted a raptor perched in a snag on the property next door, 1,000+ feet away. Using a 20-30x scope he could see that it was not a Peregrine, but could not say what it was as it was facing mostly away from us. Later it turned toward us. We made notes and drawings, consulted raptor books and scoped the bird for over three hours.

Our best guess was that the bird was a Gyrfalcon, but we have only seen one once, flying away at high speed, and we never expected to see one from the back yard. I consulted with my usual (helpful and patient) bird expert, Marv Breece, who graciously spent time reviewing my notes. He said that it sounded just like a Gyrfalcon, specifically a first-year gray morph and probably a female. He also had to tell me how any other possible raptor I considered did not fit with the description I had given him, while I was thinking that my description must be faulty. Finally I sent along some fuzzy photos of the bird and Marv pronounced it "a Gyrfalcon, period."

The backyard is situated about halfway between Auburn and Enumclaw and the snag is quite close to the north edge of the plateau above the Green River Valley. We have not seen the bird since.

Sandy Daniels, King county

Ladyhawk707 AT msn DOT com

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