Two days later, the internet is still buzzing over SpaceX’s successful Falcon Heavy launch, and not without good reason; the achievement makes the gargantuan rocket the most powerful in the world.
That said, maybe we should be paying a little more attention to the original “Falcon Heavy” — I am, of course, talking about the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus), which is the heaviest falcon in the world.
Paul Sweet, an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History, confirms to Inverse that the female gyrfalcon is indeed the largest and heaviest of all falcons. This bird of prey lives extremely far north, within the circumpolar arctic and subarctic regions of the world.
“The weight of the female Gyr given as 1396-2000g [brings it to a] mean of 1752g (n=12),” Sweet tells Inverse. That’s roughly four pounds — extremely thicc by falcon standards.
“Gyrfalcons exhibit pronounced reversed sexual size dimorphism,” according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “On average, adult males weigh 1,100-1,300 g, and females 1,700-1,800 g, meaning males typically weigh about 65 percent as much as females.
At this point, everyone’s seen pictures of the Falcon Heavy. But it’s way more difficult to see a gyrfalcon. These birds, though large and spectacular, are rarely seen since they live in such remote and unreasonably cold places. Only lucky birdwatchers typically get a peek at these majestic creatures.
These giant, heavy birds are predictably metal, preying on smaller, less fortunate birds like ptarmigan and waterfowl. They’re expert hunters that typically spot their kill from high posts — and in the high arctic, no one can hear you scream.
So sure, Elon Musk might have won the day with his fancy rocket and expensive space car. But gyrfalcons have been winning in the battle against time, evolution, and humanity.
Please show some goddamn respect.