Animals -> Birds -> Birds of Prey -> Falcons


On occasion, falcon was hunted and consumed in winter by Nuvorugmiut (Inuvialuit) [1]. Other cultures, including the Red Earth Cree, regarded the eating of falcon to be taboo [2].

Peregrine Falcons are reported to have been hunted and consumed by the Hare (Sahtu), who cooked them by boiling, frying in lard, fire-grilling or roasting [3]. The Gyrfalcon is reported to have been eaten by Nuvorugmiut. Bering Strait cultures usually ate these birds fire-roasted or boiled, the latter being the most common method [4].

Falcons were sometimes hunted for their prized feathers. In the North, special arrows called bird bolts were commonly decorated with two falcon feathers [5]. The feathers of Gyrfalcons were used in arrows and spears and were valuable trading items [4]. The skin of a Peregrine Falcon was also used by some cultures. Plains cultures and Arikara were known to stuff the skins with grass or hemp to fashion ceremonial medicine bundles; these were said to have special healing powers [6]. The mighty falcon is also a common character in Arctic legends. These stories tell of the falcon’s important relationship with humans [4]. 


1.         Morrison DA: The Kugaluk Site and the Nuvorugmiut: The Archaeology and History of a Nineteenth-Century Mackenzie Inuit Society. Hull, Quebec: National Musems of Canada; 1988.

2.         Meyer D: Appendix I: Plants, Animals and Climate; Appendix IV: Subsistence-Settlement Patterns. In: The Red Earth Crees, 1860-1960. Volume 1st edition, edn.: National Musem of Man Mercury Series; 1985: 175-185-200-223.

3.         Hara HS: The Hare Indians and Their World. In. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada; 1980: 95-147.

4.         Vaughan R: Birds and Arctic peoples. In: In Search of Arctic Birds. edn. London: T & A D Poyser; 1992: 20-48.

5.         Russel F: Explorations in the Far North. In: Explorations in the Far North. edn. Iowa: University of Iowa; 1898.

6.         Olsen SL: Animals in American Indian Life: An Overview. In: Stars Above, Earth Below American Indians and Nature. edn. Edited by Bol MC. Dublin: Roberts Rinehart Publishers; 1998: 95-118.

Falcons are compact, fast flying birds of prey that hunt during the day. Like other birds of prey, they have a hooked beak to tear flesh, strong legs with sharp talons to grasp their prey, and very keen eye sight. Unlike eagles and hawks, falcons have long, narrow, and pointed wings [1]. In North America, falcons include the medium-sized, darker Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), breeding from the tundra to the tropics in a variety of habitats [2], and the larger and paler Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) restricted to the arctic and subarctic regions of northern Canada [3]. 


1.         Sibley D: The Sibley guide to bird life and behavior. New York, NY, USA: Alfred A. Knopf; 2001.

2.         White CM, Clum NJ, Cade TJ, Hunt WG: Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 2002.

3.         Booms TL, Cade TJ, Clum NJ: Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 2008.


Distribution maps provided below, unless otherwise stated, were obtained from Birds of North America Online, maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and all pictures provided below were obtained from Encyclopedia of Life
Peregrine Falcon
Supplier: Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: Teddy Llovet
Supplier: Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: Ómar Runólfsson


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