Many have their eyes on the skies in Scarborough after the sighting of a gyrfalcon earlier this month.
The falcon is not a surprise to see, according to Ralph Toinger, manager of habitat restoration at Toronto Region and Conservation Authority.
“The gyrfalcon is not native to Southern Ontario, but reasonably and frequently show up here,” Toinger said.
Aside from many of those living in Scarborough taking notice of Falco rusticolus (the gryfalcon’s scientific name), it isn’t the first time that the species was spotted this far south.
About two years ago, another gyrfalcon was seen for a month, in and around Thompson Memorial Park, on Brimley Road in Scarborough.
“Its prey population moves, so in order to find food, [the gyrfalcon] must keep moving south and south,” Toinger said.
Even though the bird is not native to Ontario, they have breeding grounds in Arctic Canada, which is why it sometimes can be seen in southern and slighter warmer climates in the country during late fall and winter seasons.
Local residents have noticed the bird swooping in and around Eglinton Avenue East and Pharmacy Avenue, in the Golden Mile Shopping Centre. According to Toinger, the bird is not usually seen this far south, but they sometimes are pets of some sort.
“It’s common for these birds to pop up,” Toinger said.
Even though some gyrfalcons are kept as pets, it doesn’t mean that they won’t survive on their own in the wild, or in any other climate. They feed off prey that are found all over the city.
“The gyrfalcon preys on small rodents and other birds,” Toinger said.
The small birds that the falcon hunts can be pigeons, which many people don’t mind being consumed.
Anna, a Scarborough resident, said she wouldn’t mind if street pigeons dwindled in population.
“They are one animal that everyone here wouldn’t really miss. I mean, they just are somewhat of a nuisance,” Anna said.