(Falco Gyrfalco,* Linn.—Le Gerfaut, Buff.)
THIS is a very elegant species; length of the male twenty-two inches, of the female two feet three inches. The bill is much hooked, and yellow; iris dusky; throat white, as is likewise the general colour of the plumage, but spotted with brown; the breast and belly are marked with lines, pointing downwards; the spots on the back and wings are larger; the feathers on the thighs are very long, and of a pure white; those of the tail are barred: the legs are pale blue, feathered below the knee. This bird is a native of the cold and dreary climates of the north, and is found in Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Baffin's Bay: it is never seen in warm, and seldom in temperate climates; it is found, but rarely, in Scotland and the Orkneys. Buffon mentions three varieties of the Jer-Falcon; the first is brown on all the upper parts of the body; and white, spotted with brown, on the under. This is found in Iceland: the second is very similar to it; and the third is entirely white. Next to the Eagle, it is the most formidable, active, and intrepid of all rapacious birds, and the most esteemed for falconry. It is transported from Iceland and Russia into France, Italy, and even into Persia and Turkey; nor does the heat of these climates appear to diminish its strength, or blunt its vivacity. It boldly attacks the largest of the feathered race; the Stork, the Heron, and the Crane are easy victims: it kills hares by darting directly upon them. The female, as in all other birds of prey, is much larger and stronger than the male, which is used in falconry only to catch the Kite, the Heron, and the Crow.
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