Our Birds: Ellesmere

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A.K.A.: Elle, New Girl

Species: Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)

Sex: Female

Hatched: 2015

Arrived: 2016

Condition: Injured wing (hit by car)

ellesmere   ellesmere   einstein   ellesmere   ellesmere

Her Story

Ellesmere was hatched, like all wild Gyrfalcons, in the Arctic Tundra. In her first winter, she wandered southward to the Ottawa area, probably in search of a place with lots of food. Unfortunately her journey brought her across a road, and Ellesmere was hit by a car.

Raptors often hunt near roadsides, because human litter draws rodents and other small animals into the ditches. This creates a dangerous trap for these birds, who don't understand the hazards the road poses. Far too many are struck by cars, all because people can't wait to find a garbage can.

Ellesmere was taken to the Wild Bird Care Centre. The collision damaged her wing, but although it was repaired, it didn't heal well enough for her to fly properly. Without the ability for high-speed pursuit and long-distance gliding, she simply couldn't survive in the wild. She joined Wild Ontario in 2016 and adapted remarkably quickly to life in the spotlight!

Species Information: Gyrfalcon

Range: Breeds in Arctic in North America, Europe and Asia. Sometimes moves southward in winter.

Habitat: Arctic tundra on coasts, islands, bluffs, rocky outcrops and mountainous terrain.

Diet: Various other birds, especially ptarmigan, waterfowl and seabirds. Also mammals like hares and squirrels.

Fun Fact: Gyrfalcons have four distinct colour forms: white, gray, brown and black. Elle is gray!

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