The gyrfalcon is the world’s largest falcon, and one of the fastest: During long flights, it can surpass speeds of 80 miles per hour. Weighing more than three pounds, with a wingspan of four feet or more, it can take down prey twice its size.
It’s also the only Arctic raptor that doesn’t need to head south for the winter, staying behind instead to hunt prey in a frigid, dark landscape. “Any organism that can live in such a hostile environment has my respect,” says Travis Booms, a raptor biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
But the gyrfalcon faces a challenge it cannot flee or take down: The Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as