Thursday, May 23, 2013 Falcon Mystery from 2011 Resolved by Genetic Analysis

Seward Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

The sight of broken glass shards strewn across my "office" inspired the start of this blog back on November 14, 2011. A large brownish raptor had flown into my double-paned window with such force that the inner pane shattered, but the membrane between the two panes bounced it back on my roof. There is sat, dazed and injured but alive. The Alaska Sealife Center rescued it and kept it for surveillance. Unfortunately, due to damage to its lungs and other complications from the tremendous impact, it died during the night.

A controversy then erupted as to the identity of this mystery juvenile falcon. A PEREGRINE? A GYRFALCON? A hybrid? DNA samples were taken, and the results are in. (Drum roll, please.)

Genetic analysis shows it is a GYRFALCON. The scientist said it is possible that in the distant past, there may have been some hybridization between a gyr and a peregrine; it is not possible to rule that out based on the analysis. But it is definitely not a first generation hybrid. So GRYFALCON it is, or was. No matter what its identity, I remain very sorry that it chose to hit my window while pursuing a PINE GROSBEAK. Who knew Gyrs were even around here? But, two days later…


And the blog was off to an exciting start!

Photos below so you don't have to go all the way back to the beginning.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment