Bird field guide > Bird watching diary > Greenland Falcon

Greenland Falcon


I was much surprised on my last visit to Alderney in June, on going into a small carpenter's shop in the town, whose owner, besides being a carpenter, is also an amateur bird-stuffer, though of the roughest description, to find, amongst the dust of his shop, not only the Purple Heron, which I went especially to see, and which is mentioned afterwards, but a young Greenland Falcon (Falco candicans) which he informed me had been found in that island about 18 months ago.

This statement was afterwards confirmed by the person who found the bird, who was sent for and came in whilst I was still in the shop. Unfortunately, neither the carpenter nor his friend who found the bird had made any note of the date, and could only remember that the one had shot the bird in that Island about 18 months ago and the other had stuffed it immediately after.

This would bring it to the winter, or, more probably, the late autumn. In the course of conversation it appeared to me that the Snow Falcon as they called this bird was not entirely unknown to the carpenter or his friend, though neither could remember at the time another instance of one having been found. It is, however, by no means improbable that either this species or the next mentioned, or both, may have occurred in the Islands before, as Professor Ansted, though he gives no date or locality, includes the Gyr Falcon in his list of Channel Island birds.

As all 3 of the large northern white Falcons were at one time included under the name of Gyr Falcons, and, as Professor Ansted gives no description of the bird mentioned by him, it is impossible to say to which species he alluded. We may fairly conclude, however, that it was either the present species or the Iceland Falcon, as it could hardly have been the darker and less wandering species, the Norway Falcon, the true Gyr Falcon of falconers, Falco gyrfalco of Linnaeus, which does not wander so far from its native home, and has never yet, as far as is at present known, occurred in any part of the British Islands, and certainly not so far south as the Channel Islands.

This latter, indeed, is an extremely southern latitude for either the Greenland or Iceland Falcon, the next being in Cornwall, from which county both species have been recorded by Mr. Rodd. Neither species, however, is recorded as having occurred in any of the neighbouring parts of France.