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Gyrfalcon Taken in California

Stanley G. Jewett
Publication Information
Journal: 
Condor
Volume: 
51
Issue: 
5 (September-October)
Section: 
From Field and Study
Year: 
1949
Pages: 
233

Gyrfalcon Taken in California.--On October 23, 1948, Robert F. Russell of the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, while hunting quail about two miles west of Lower Klamath Lake, Siskiyou County, California, shot a Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) which he later prepared as a specimen and sent to me for study. It is labeled as a male. The seventh primary is shorter than the tenth, indicating its affinity to the race uralensis. The plumage is that of an immature bird. This is the first record of this species in California.

Mr. Russell’s account of the taking of this specimen is worth quoting verbatim: “I shot the hawk while quail hunting in that area. While searching for a cripple with my setter, I noticed a hawk circling, watching our activities. The bird evidently had no fear of man or dog and seemed to resent our presence-perhaps it was interested in the crippled quail. Suddenly the hawk folded its wings and dropped like a stone toward the dog from a height of about 7.5 feet. Just before the hawk reached the dog it pulled out of its dive, missing the dog’s back by a scant two feet . . . . The speed of the bird was extreme. I can distinctly recall the sound of the wind in its wings as it dove-like someone tearing a sheet. The hawk duplicated its first dive and I shot it as it came out of it.“-STANLEY G. JEWETT, Portkznd, Oregon, February 15, 1949. 

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