"An Eagle for an Emperor,
a Gyrfalcon for a King:
a Peregrine for a Prince,
& a Saker for a Knight,
a Merlin for a lady,
a Goshawk for a Yeoman,
a Sparrowhawk for a Priest,
& a Kestrel for a Knave."
~ The Book of St Albans, 1486
The gyrfalcon is the national bird of Iceland. It is the largest and most powerful falcon in the world. Its plumage varies from white to grey to almost black. Gyrfalcons were worshipped by the Vikings and highly sought after by European kings and members of the aristocracy. Unlike diving predators, the gyrfalcon hunts in level flight.
By designer Carol A.L Martin, this tartan represents the Gyrfalcon, the national bird of Iceland. It is the largest and most powerful falcon in the world, and its plumage varies from white to grey to almost black.
Gyrfalcons were worshipped by the Vikings and highly sought after by European kings and members of the aristocracy.
An Icelandic legend of the ptarmigan and the gyrfalcon begins with the two birds as sisters. They lived side by side, playfully tangling at times. One day, the gyrfalcon accidentally killed her sister without knowing it. When she realized what she had done, an anguished cry filled her throat and sprang from her beak, echoing across the land. To this day, the lonely cry of the gyrfalcon can be heard in the hills of Iceland. In actuality, these two birds are inextricably linked, with the ptarmigan being a main source of food for the gyrfalcon in certain areas.
Like other hierofalcons, it usually hunts in a horizontal pursuit, rather than with the peregrine's speedy stoop from a height.
For more about Iceland's gyrfalcons, click the portrait!