Black Gyrs

 
 

“ In the early years we sold our black gyrs together with other gyrs to breeders in Germany, England and some Arabian countries.  Therefore many of the dark gyrs bred from such famous breeders as Burg Gleichenstein in Thüringen, Germany, as well as some other countries, are from our genetic stock.  You can’t eat your seed potatoes if you look forward to a good crop“ an old saying goes, and it was then that I decided to keep most of my darker birds and made sure that I put as many unrelated dark pairs together. Today, we have the largest collection of dark, not-close related pairs of gyrs anywhere.  The results are slowly coming in and are encouraging, as the birds reach sexual maturity (4-5 years). 

 

Black

Gyrfalcons

It is harder to get dark colored young from breeding pure gyrs, than it is to obtain them by crossing gyrs with either peregrines or some  prairies.  As a matter of fact some of the first and darkest birds I produced were gyr/prairie hybrids.  I bred these birds only one year in the late seventies.  They went fast to falconers in the Middle East and I never had a chance to keep one, to breed further generations.  Domestic gyr/peregrine hybrids have proven to be excellent hunting birds with Arab falconers.  They are equally high in demand just as wild passage falcons which are legally hard to come by.  Many of our black gyrs are bought by other breeders to produce hybrids. 

Dark male gyr/prairie hybrid around 1979 with home made seamless band which we put on our birds for several years.  After  “Operation Falcon”(1984),  CWS came out with their own seamless bands.  Domestic falcons got recognized, illegalities and entrapment were a thing of the past.

Black Gyrfalcons are a domestic mutation,  that we intensified and developed further.  There is a great parallel to these in the Mink breeding business.  Mink Ranchers have developed many shades of black mink,  one of them is called “Black Glama”

Two of the darkest pure gyrs ever produced at our breeding facility


  
  

Owners Brian Sullivan, Spokane, WA, USA

      ....and....

Dr. Jeremy Johnston, Surrey, BC, Canada



 


The dark bird in this photo can clearly be distinguished from her lighter colored siblings by the dark color of his beak, legs, and breast feathers.




Pinto got the unique markings on his back from his great grandmother, Nanuk, who was snow white. 


Nanuk is # 7 in Genealogy book
Charlie is # 10 in Genealogy book



Pinto

The mean looks of this young fellow, born 2003, indicates that the spirit of his grandfather "Charlie", who died after being with us for 23 years, is still alive.  

Charlie, 1969

To achieve the greatest success from any breeding, animal breeders have developed several kinds of breeding programs.  The better known are inbreeding, line breeding and back-crossing.   Most of these involve strong inbreeding, father X daughter and brother X sister.  It is said that these kinds of breeding intensifies  good features and faults.  We have restrained from this procedure, simply because we believe that it would weaken our small gene pool of birds we had available.

In the wild, dark birds get constantly diluted in the great mass of gray gyrs.  We have tried to reverse these method by putting the darkest together.  The closest we have come to inbreeding is to put first cousins together.  We were happy to have found by chance two dark individuals in two separate nests near Ungava Bay , Quebec and received a dark well producing female from the Yukon in exchange for domestic bred peregrines.              

For initial requests please phone us.  We prefer not to give out our email address until we have been contacted by phone.

John and Ginny Lejeune and Monica Cromarty
(Wir sprechen Deutsch)
Phone: 604-796-9573
Phone: 604-796-9511

Ask and it will be given to you!” so it says in the Bible, but when I enquired about gyrfalcon permits from the province of Quebec in 1968 and 1969, I did not mention or request any white or black birds.  For years I was impressed and blinded by the white color, but after I bred gyrs for awhile I noticed, that demand for darker falcons was very strong.  I watched  many adults  and passage gyrs in the wild, but never saw a real black gyr.   Dark gyrs usually get born with ebony colored claws and beaks, but between the many gyrs we bred, we noticed some that were also born with dark down.

True black gyrfalcons always were the rarest of the gyrs.  The Russian ornithologist, Professor Dr. G.P. Dementiev, one of the world’s best historians on gyrlalcons and its use in falconry, writes in his book, “Der Gerfalke” that Czar Alexej Michailowitsch kept in 1656 70 gyrfalcons and 29 gyrfalcon terzels.  Of these 99 birds only 3 were black.     

                          

Some more of our dark falcons born 2003, 2004, 2005....

  
  


  
  

We follow the old recipe,   “ Take the best, mix it with best and God does the rest.”     

 

Dark female with young 

After their first molt all black gyrs get somewhat lighter, only a very few such as this female gyr feeding her young contain their dark chocolate brown color.

Already, some of the young gyrs popping out of eggs look more like wet mice than gyrfalcon chicks. In the wild I never found any young gyrs with dark down and it was only after some time of deliberate effort that they started to appear in our breeding project.  One strange phenomena we cannot explain is that the dark color seems to be more dominant in females.  Until  2004 we had quite a number of dark females but never a real dark male, yet the dark silver males of dark parents seem to transfer the dark gene to their offspring.  There is something similar in ordinary chickens, the females are born brown while the males are born golden yellow.