|South Dakota Birds and Birding
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I'll leave it to this other page to tell the entire (sad) story of this bird. This is the ONLY dark-phase Gyrfalcon I've ever seen. Gyrfalcons themselves are pretty darn rare birds in the lower 48, and dark-phase Gyrfalcons are rare even for Gyrfalcons in the lower 48. When I first saw this bird in a tree, Gyrfalcon didn't even cross my mind at first, because I first keyed in on the dark plumage, and head that lacked the typical bold "mustache" of the "normal" gray-phase Gyrfalcons we typically have in South Dakota. When I got closer and saw what he was, I don't think I've ever worked so fast to get a photo, as this was one I didn't want to get away! I was tickled beyond belief to have him sit still and give me a regal pose.
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