Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A large falcon (Falco rusticolus) of Arctic regions, having color phases that range from black to gray to white.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any large falcon, especially as used to fly at herons.
  • n. A large bird of prey that breeds on Arctic coasts and islands of North America, Europe and Asia.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of several species and varieties of large Arctic falcons, esp. Falco rusticolus and the white species Falco Islandicus, both of which are circumpolar. The black and the gray are varieties of the former. See Illust. of accipiter.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. See gerfalcon.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. large and rare Arctic falcon having white and dark color phases

Etymologies

Middle English girfaucoun, from Old French girfaut, gerfaucon : Old High German gīr, vulture + Old French faucon, falcon; see falcon.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French gerfaucon (modern French gerfaut), with the first element probably from Old High German gīr ("vulture") (whence the German Geier). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The 27th season of "Nature" (PBS, 8 p.m.) begins with the beautiful white species in the Arctic - the wolves and the white falcon known as the gyrfalcon, together on Ellesmere Island.

    Hartford Courant blogs

  • The bony fingers that grabbed her wrist this time had all the strength of a gyrfalcon.

    Raven Speak

  • At one time, the type of falcon an Englishman was allowed to own marked his rank: a king carried the gyrfalcon; an earl, the peregrine; a yeoman, the goshawk; the priest, the sparrow hawk; and a servant, the kestrel.

    Birdology

  • Last night the two had finally been spotted just before sunset, and the gryphon in question, a gyrfalcon-type with amazing speed, had come rushing back to the Vale as fast as she could with the news.

    Elephant in the City

  • Cliffs along the Yukon and Porcupine Rivers support several raptor species, including osprey, gyrfalcon, Swainson's hawk, and the endangered American peregrine falcon.

    Upper Yukon Tayga Province (Bailey)

  • The gyrfalcon held in its talons the quill of a peacock feather showing a brilliant eye, the blind eye of Chance.

    Wildfire

  • I was not supposed to be a gyrfalcon; I was supposed to be a thrush.

    Wildfire

  • He wore old hunting leathers stamped with a green fletch pattern, and a velvet hat with a golden gyrfalcon broach.

    Wildfire

  • I had fancied myself a gyrfalcon or a fox, a hunter, when I was just an insignificant brown bird, a wren in borrowed plumage.

    Wildfire

  • Not only do depictions of wildlife appear as art -- carved into the ice walls of the lodge's suites -- but wild reindeer, musk oxen, and gyrfalcon (the world's largest falcon) populate this alpine region.

    Gayired.com - Gay OnLine Community for Entertainment and Daily News

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