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Full EpisodeWhite Falcon, White Wolf

On Canada’s Ellesmere Island, the race is on to raise families. Last summer, a nesting gyrfalcon pair failed to raise any young. The rare Arctic wolves rely on every member of the pack to chase and bring down the prey that keep them alive. For the wolves and the falcons, as well for the snowy owls, lemmings, foxes and hares who share this fragile ecosystem, the future is never certain.

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[ WOLF HOWLING ] [ HOWLING ] THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST REMOTE PLACES ON EARTH... ELLESMERE ISLAND.

IT'S SPANNED BY RUGGED MOUNTAIN RIDGES AND SCOURED BY FREEZING WINDS.

THE ISLAND LIES AT CANADA'S MOST NORTHERN TIP, EXTENDING HIGH INTO THE ARCTIC CIRCLE.

IT CROWNS SOME OF THE WORLD'S MOST PRISTINE WILDERNESS.

FOR NINE MONTHS OF THE YEAR, THE WHOLE ISLAND LIES BURIED BENEATH A CLOAK OF SNOW AND ICE.

BUT NOW, AT THE BEGINNING OF JUNE, THE TEMPERATURE RISES JUST ENOUGH TO START A SLOW MELT.

THE RACE TO MAKE THE MOST OF THE SHORT BUT PRODUCTIVE ARCTIC SUMMER CAN BEGIN.

GYRFALCONS CAN WEIGH MORE THAN 4 1/2 POUNDS.

LARGER THAN PEREGRINES, THEIR SHEER PHYSICAL BULK MAKES THEM THE MOST POWERFUL FALCONS IN THE WORLD.

THEY CAN TURN INTO A 200-MILE-AN-HOUR STOOP IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE.

THIS IS THE MALE.

HE'S 1/3 SMALLER THAN THE FEMALE FALCON.

HE'S NOT HUNTING RIGHT NOW, JUST SHOWING OFF.

THE CLIFF ON WHICH THE FALCONS BREED LOOKS OUT OVER THE SEA.

FROM THIS HIGH, SHELTERED VANTAGE POINT, HE CAN SPOT INTRUDING MALES... AS WELL AS POTENTIAL PREY.

ANY DUCK THAT TAKES TO THE WIND WILL BE A TARGET.

THE ABSENCE OF HIS BIGGER, MORE POWERFUL MATE IS A GOOD SIGN.

SHE'S INCUBATING EGGS DEEP BEHIND THIS OVERHANG IN THE CLIFF.

THEIR NEST SITE IS KNOWN TO BE ANCIENT.

THE BONES OF PREY FOUND DEEP WITHIN IT SUGGEST IT'S BEEN IN USE FOR SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS.

THOUGH IT'S A GREAT PLACE TO NEST, THE FALCONS AREN'T ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL.

IN THE ARCTIC, EVEN IN SUMMER, NOTHING IS EVERY CERTAIN.

THIS PACK ON ELLESMERE COMPRISES EIGHT WOLVES -- THE ALPHA MALE, THREE OF HIS GROWN-UP YOUNG FROM PREVIOUS YEARS... AND THREE WOLVES THAT WERE BORN JUST LAST SPRING, NOW A YEAR OLD.

THESE YEARLINGS HAVE A LOT TO LEARN.

THEY STILL HAVE PUPPY-LIKE TRAITS -- PARTICULARLY THIS ONE.

SHE'S QUITE A CHARACTER.

IF SHE'S TO BECOME A USEFUL MEMBER OF THE PACK, SHE'S GOT A LOT OF GROWING UP TO DO BEFORE THE WINTER.

[ DUCKS QUACKING ] THE BREEDING FEMALE WOLF HAS SPENT A LOT OF TIME IN THIS DEN RECENTLY.

IT'S LIKELY SHE HAS PUPS DOWN THERE.

THEY WON'T APPEAR ABOVE GROUND UNTIL THEY'RE ABOUT A MONTH OLD -- USUALLY IN LATE JUNE.

THAT'S ANY TIME NOW.

BUT HOW MANY HEADS MIGHT EMERGE IS HER SECRET ALONE.

WOLVES ARE EXTREMELY SOCIABLE ANIMALS, AND THEY'RE EXCITED BY THE PROSPECT OF NEW FAMILY MEMBERS.

BUT STILL NO SIGN OF THEM YET.

THE BREEDING FEMALE GOES BACK UNDERGROUND WHILE THE BREEDING MALE LEADS THE PACK OFF TO FIND FOOD.

SOMETIMES THEY CHASE ARCTIC HARES.

HOWEVER, THE REAL THREAT TO HARES COMES FROM ABOVE.

[ HIGH-PITCHED CALL ] THE MALE HAS CAUGHT A YOUNG HARE.

HE PASSES IT TO THE FEMALE, WHO WILL TAKE IT BACK TO THE NEST.

ELSEWHERE, GYRFALCONS FEED MAINLY ON SEA BIRDS.

BUT HERE ON ELLESMERE, THEY RELY ON HARES.

AND THEIR ABUNDANCE WILL BE THE KEY TO THE SURVIVAL OF THIS YEAR'S BROOD.

[ CALLING ] ONE CHICK HAS HATCHED.

[ CALLING ] TWO.

[ CALLING ] [ CALLING CONTINUES ] THREE.

THIS IS A VERY GOOD START TO THE SUMMER.

THE FEMALE WILL STAY AT THE NEST, PROTECTING AND FEEDING THE CHICKS, WHILE THE MALE GOES HUNTING.

[ CALLING ] LAST YEAR, ONLY TWO HATCHED, AND THEY BOTH SOON DIED OF STARVATION.

IT'S ALL ABOUT TIMING.

THE FALCON CHICKS HATCH VERY EARLY IN THE SEASON, WHEN SMALL, YOUNG HARES, CALLED LEVERETS, ARE PLENTIFUL.

BUT THEY WILL SOON OUTWEIGH THE FALCON, AND HE WON'T BE ABLE TO KILL THEM OR LIFT THEM OFF THE GROUND.

THE PARENT FALCONS NEED TO MAKE THE MOST OF THESE EARLY WEEKS OF SUMMER OR THEIR CHICKS WON'T SURVIVE.

IT'S A VERY FINELY BALANCED WORLD UP HERE.

A FEW DAYS -- EARLY OR LATE -- CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

[ WOLF HOWLING ] [ WOLF HOWLING ] THE PACK HEARS THE ALPHA FEMALE CALLING AND RETURNS.

[ HOWLING ] SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT.

THERE SHOULD BE PUPS BY NOW, BUT SHE'S ALONE.

MAYBE SHE HAD A FALSE PREGNANCY, OR PERHAPS THE PUPS DIED UNDERGROUND.

WHATEVER HAPPENED, THE FORTUNES OF THE PACK HAVE CHANGED.

NEW PUPS WOULD HAVE PUT PRESSURE ON THE PLAYFUL ONE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO GROW UP.

INSTEAD, SHE REMAINS VERY MUCH THE BABY.

THERE'S NO REASON TO STAY CLOSE TO THE DEN NOW.

THE PACK CAN SPEND THE SUMMER ON THE MOVE.

[ HOWLING ] THE ALPHA MALE CALLS TO HIS MATE.

AND THEY ALL MOVE OFF ACROSS THE TUNDRA.

THE YOUNG FEMALE SPENDS MUCH OF HER TIME PLAYING.

BUT IF SHE'S DISTRACTED THIS EASILY, SHE'LL FIND IT HARD TO KEEP UP WITH A PACK THAT COVERS 40 OR 50 MILES A DAY.

THEY NEED HER TO PAY ATTENTION.

BY WINTER, SHE MUST LEARN HER PART IN HUNTING DOWN ANIMALS A LOT MORE CHALLENGING THAN ARCTIC HARES.

MUSK OX MAY LOOK LIKE BULLS IN LONG, SHAGGY SKIRTS, BUT THEY'RE ACTUALLY MUSCLE-BOUND POWERHOUSES.

THE CALVES AND LONE ELDERLY BULLS ARE MOST EASILY BROUGHT DOWN BY THE PACK.

THERE'S GOOD REASON FOR THEM TO STAY AWAY FROM THE SHORE LINE.

THE WOLVES ARE USING IT AS A HIGHWAY TO FIND EASIER THINGS TO CATCH.

[ BIRD CALLING ] AS THERE ARE NO TREES HERE, BIRDS NEST ON THE GROUND.

BUT EACH BIRD HAS DEVELOPED A DIFFERENT STRATEGY TO PROTECT ITS VULNERABLE YOUNG.

AN ANGRY ARCTIC SKUA CAN EASILY SPOOK A NAIVE YOUNG WOLF.

[ SCOLDING ] [ SCOLDING ] THE SKUA SUCCESSFULLY MOVES THE WOLVES ON.

A MILE OR SO FARTHER ON, IT'S AN ARCTIC FOX WHO'S KEEPING A WARY EYE ON THE PACK.

[ SKUA SCOLDING ] THEY'RE NOT MUCH LARGER THAN A DOMESTIC CAT, AND AN EASY MEAL FOR A WOLF.

THE FEMALE FOX IS OUT OF SIGHT.

SHE'S PROBABLY UNDER THESE ROCKS AT THE MOMENT, PERHAPS WITH PUPS.

THERE'S ONE NEIGHBOR THAT CAN GIVE THE WOLVES A REAL PUNCH.

[ GROWLING ] SNOWY OWLS HAVE LITTLE FEAR OF ANYTHING OR ANYONE.

[ BARKS ] [ BARKS ] [ BARKS ] [ BARKS ] [ SNARLS ] THIS FEMALE HAS GOOD REASON TO DRIVE THE WOLVES OUT OF HER VALLEY.

SHE'S PROTECTING A VERY LARGE NUMBER OF EGGS.

SNOWY OWLS BREED MUCH LATER THAN FALCONS.

THEY'RE SYNCHRONIZING HATCHING NOT TO HARES, BUT TO LEMMINGS.

AND THE FACT THAT THERE ARE THIS MANY EGGS SUGGESTS THEY'RE BANKING ON A GOOD YEAR.

JUNE TURNS TO JULY.

THE SNOWS CAN SETTLE AGAIN AS EARLY AS LATE AUGUST.

FOR ANYTHING GROWING, THERE'S LITTLE TIME LEFT.

ARCTIC WILLOWS, THOUGH OFFICIALLY TREES, GROW MORE LIKE SHRUBS AND HUG THE GROUND WITH GRASPING FINGERS.

SUDDEN ICE MELT BRINGS A FLURRY OF COLOR TO THE GROUND, AS FLOWERS OF ALL KINDS RACE THROUGH THEIR OWN BREEDING CYCLE.

WADERS, LIKE THIS BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, HAVE COME UP TO ELLESMERE ISLAND TO RAISE THEIR YOUNG ON THE ABUNDANT INSECT LIFE.

[ BIRDS CALLING ] ARCTIC TERNS HAVE TRAVELED ACROSS THE WORLD FROM THE SOUTH POLE TO JOIN IN THIS FEAST.

[ CALLING ] [ CALLS ] [ CALLING ] IN THE PAST MONTH, THE YOUNG HARES HAVE PALED IN COLOR, BUT CRUCIALLY, THEY'VE DOUBLED IN WEIGHT.

[ FALCON CALLING ] THEIR LARGER SIZE IS NOW PROVING DIFFICULT FOR THE SMALLER MALE FALCON.

[ CALLING ] [ FALCON CHICKS CALLING ] BUT THE CHICKS NEED MORE FOOD THAN EVER.

THE FEMALE IS MUCH LARGER THAN HER MATE, BUT SHE STILL HAS TO STAY WITH THE CHICKS TO HELP THEM FEED.

SHE NEEDS THE MALE TO GO OUT HUNTING AGAIN AND AGAIN.

[ CALLING ] FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS, THE GYRS WILL BE UNDER THE GREATEST PRESSURE OF THE SEASON.

[ CALLING ] FARTHER UP THE HILL, THE SNOWY OWL EGGS HATCH OVER A TEN-DAY PERIOD, JUST AS THE LEMMINGS APPEAR.

SUDDENLY, THEY'RE EVERYWHERE.

ALL PREDATORS NEED TO TIME THEIR BREEDING WITH THE GREATEST ABUNDANCE OF THEIR PREY.

THIS YEAR, THE OWLS HAVE GOT IT JUST RIGHT.

THE OWLS USE THEIR ACUTE SENSE OF HEARING TO DETECT THE SOUNDS OF LEMMINGS, FLYING FROM PERCH TO PERCH ON THE GROUND TO GET CLOSER.

UNLIKE FALCONS, THEY RELY ON HEARING MORE THAN SIGHT.

[ BIRDS CALLING ] EVERYTHING IS AFTER THE LEMMINGS... INCLUDING THE LONG-TAILED SKUA.

[ SCOLDING ] SKUAS WILL MOB VIRTUALLY EVERYTHING THAT MOVES IN THEIR TERRITORY.

AS THE OWLETS GROW BIGGER, IT'S A FULL-TIME JOB FOR BOTH PARENTS TO BRING IN ENOUGH LEMMINGS FOR SO MANY MOUTHS.

[ HIGH-PITCHED CRY ] THE MALE FOX BRINGS HOME A MOUTHFUL OF LEMMINGS.

IT CAN MEAN ONLY ONE THING -- KITS.

UNLIKE THE WOLVES, THE FOXES HAVE HAD YOUNG.

THE SUPPLY OF LEMMINGS IS SO PLENTIFUL THAT THE KITS DON'T EVEN SEEM HUNGRY.

THEY BURY THE SURPLUS AND HAVE TIME TO PLAY.

[ CALLING ] THEY MUST BUILD UP THEIR STRENGTH AND STALKING SKILLS QUICKLY SO THAT THEY CAN START CATCHING LEMMINGS FOR THEMSELVES.

THE OWLETS HAVE SORTED OUT THEIR OWN PECKING ORDER.

THERE'S NO FIGHT TO GET TO THE FRONT.

THERE ARE PLENTY OF LEMMINGS FOR EVERYONE.

[ WOLF HOWLING ] DAY AFTER DAY, THE WOLF PACK CONTINUES TO PATROL THE SHORELINE.

IF THEY HAD PUPS TO FEED, THE PACK WOULD HAVE TO HUNT LARGE PREY.

INSTEAD, THEY CAN GET BY ON THE ABUNDANCE OF LEMMINGS AND GROUND-NESTING BIRDS.

[ SQUEAK ] [ SQUEAK ] THE MUSK OX AND THEIR CALVES GET A REPRIEVE... FOR NOW.

BUT IF NEXT WINTER IS HARSH AND THE VEGETATION TOO DEEP UNDER SNOW, IT WILL BE THEIR TURN TO SUFFER.

MANY MAY GO HUNGRY, WEAKEN, AND DIE... AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE WOLVES.

THE YOUNG FEMALE HAS LAGGED BEHIND AGAIN.

SHE'S PLAYFUL AND CURIOUS.

BUBBLES... BIRDS... SHE HASN'T NOTICED THAT THE REST OF THE PACK HAS MOVED ON, OUT OF SIGHT.

HER REFLECTION SEEMS TO MESMERIZE HER.

[ BIRDS CALLING ] WHEN THE SPELL IS BROKEN, SHE FINDS HERSELF SEPARATED FROM HER FAMILY.

IF SHE'S ON HER OWN FOR LONG, IT COULD BE DISASTROUS FOR HER.

SHE HAS LITTLE KNOWLEDGE OF WHERE AND HOW TO FIND FOOD.

AT LEAST SHE HAS THE LIGHT ON HER SIDE.

AT THE HEIGHT OF SUMMER, THE SUN NEVER SETS UP HERE.

ALL ANIMALS NEED TO TAKE A BREAK FROM FINDING FOOD AT SOME POINT IN THE DAY... ALL EXCEPT THE FALCONS.

THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO STOP.

YET, DESPITE THE NEEDS OF HIS RAVENOUS CHICKS, THE MALE -- WHO STILL DOES ALL THE HUNTING -- IS SLACKING OFF.

MOST OF THE HARES ARE NOW TOO BIG FOR HIM TO KILL.

THEY APPEAR TO BE TEMPORARILY OFF THE HOOK.

SOME BIRDS ARE BETTER AT HUNTING THAN OTHERS, AND THIS MALE CLEARLY ISN'T THE BEST.

HE WAS HER MATE LAST YEAR, AS WELL.

COULD HIS IDLE NATURE BE THE REASON WHY LAST YEAR'S CLUTCH FAILED?

[ CHICKS CALLING ] THE CHICKS SHOULD BE GROWING EXPONENTIALLY, YET THEY ARE GETTING NOTICEABLY HUNGRY.

THE FEMALE IS AGITATED.

SHE LOOKS FOR FOOD THAT HE MAY HAVE STASHED AWAY, BUT THERE'S NOTHING.

IT WAS AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR THAT THEIR TWO CHICKS DIED.

[ CHICKS CALLING ] AND HE'S NOW SPENDING THIS CRITICAL TIME PREENING.

THEIR FLIGHT FEATHERS ARE BEGINNING TO GROW, AND PROLONGED HUNGER AT THIS AGE COULD WEAKEN THEM.

FOR A GYRFALCON, STRONG FLIGHT FEATHERS ARE VITAL.

IT'S TIME FOR THE MOTHER TO TAKE THINGS INTO HER OWN HANDS AND START HUNTING, TOO.

SHE USES HER IMMENSELY POWERFUL WING BEAT TO GAIN HEIGHT.

HER INCREDIBLE EYESIGHT ALLOWS HER TO WATCH THE GROUND BELOW WITHOUT BEING SEEN HERSELF.

EVEN AT 1,500 FEET, SHE CAN DETECT THE SLIGHTEST MOVEMENT BELOW.

IF THE HARES DON'T MOVE, THEY'RE SAFE.

ONCE SHE IDENTIFIES A TARGET, SHE MOVES INTO THE SUN SO SHE CAN'T BE SEEN.

[ HIGH-PITCHED CRIES ] THAT'S ONLY HALF THE BATTLE WON.

SHE NOW HAS TO CARRY HER KILL MILES BACK TO THE NEST.

THE YOUNG WOLF IS ALSO STRUGGLING.

SHE'S A PACK ANIMAL, BUT SHE'S HAVING TO MAKE EVERY LITTLE DECISION ALONE.

SHE COMES TO A FRESHWATER POOL, WHERE AN EIDER DUCK HAS BROUGHT HER FOUR TINY DUCKLINGS.

SURELY THESE SHOULD MAKE AN EASY MEAL, EVEN FOR HER.

BUT, LIKE THE SKUA, THE MOTHER DUCK HAS A CLEVER TACTIC.

SHE DIVERTS THE WOLF TOWARD HER BY PRETENDING TO HAVE A BROKEN WING.

MEANWHILE, THE DUCKLINGS STAY STILL AND HIDDEN BY THE SHORE.

THE MOTHER LETS THE WOLF COME CLOSER AND CLOSER AND TEMPTS HER FARTHER AND FARTHER AWAY FROM HER DUCKLINGS.

TIRED OF THIS WILD GOOSE CHASE, THE WOLF GIVES UP.

EVERY DAY SHE REMAINS SEPARATED FROM HER FAMILY, THE MORE ENERGY SHE'LL WASTE AND THE HUNGRIER SHE'LL BECOME.

THE FEMALE GYR IS AIRBORNE.

AMAZINGLY, SHE HAS BUTCHERED THE HARE INTO SMALLER PORTIONS, WHICH IS THE SORT OF THING EAGLES DO, BUT NOT FALCONS.

EVEN SO, THE HARE'S HUGE HINDQUARTERS ARE DRAGGING HER DOWN.

SHE LANDS FAR BELOW THE CLIFF.

SHE JUST CAN'T MAKE IT UP TO THE NEST.

SHE'S EXHAUSTED.

SHE NEEDS 10 MINUTES TO CATCH HER BREATH AND GET HER STRENGTH BACK BEFORE SHE CAN CARRY THE FOOD UP TO HER STARVING CHICKS.

[ CHICKS CALLING ] NOW THAT SHE IS HUNTING, AS WELL AS THE MALE, THE CHICKS HAVE A FIGHTING CHANCE.

[ WOLF HOWLING ] [ HOWLING ] THE PACK SEEMS TO BE MISSING THEIR YOUNGEST MEMBER.

[ WOLF HOWLING ] [ HOWLING ] [ WOLF HOWLING ] COLD SNAPS CAN OCCUR ANYTIME THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER.

TEMPERATURES CAN DROP DRAMATICALLY.

WITHIN HOURS, IT CAN BE WELL BELOW FREEZING... [ WOLF HOWLING ] A STEELY REMINDER THAT WINTER IS NEVER FAR AWAY.

THE OLDER OWLETS NOW ROAM ON FOOT SOME DISTANCE FROM THEIR NEST.

THEIR GRAY, FEATHERY DOWN IS SOME OF THE BEST INSULATION IN THE NATURAL WORLD.

AND THEY ARE STILL UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF THEIR MOTHER... AS ARE THE LITTLE FOXES.

THEY ARE NOW ABLE TO MOVE ACROSS THE TUNDRA WITH THEIR PARENTS.

THEY WILL SOON BE CATCHING LEMMINGS FOR THEMSELVES.

IT'S BEEN A SUCCESSFUL YEAR FOR THE FOXES.

THEY'RE WELL FED AND READY FOR THE PRESSURES OF WINTER.

ALONE ON THE SHORE, THE YOUNG WOLF CONTINUES HER SEARCH FOR FOOD.

A LONG-TAILED DUCK HAS YOUNG.

IT'S NOT JUST THE DUCK WHO'S CLEVER.

EVEN THE DUCKLINGS SEEM TO BE OUTWITTING THE YOUNG WOLF.

THEY BOB UP FOR AIR AT EXACTLY THE MOMENT SHE IS LOOKING THE OTHER WAY.

SHE LOOKS FRUSTRATED AND IS GETTING HUNGRIER BY THE DAY.

[ CHICKS CALLING ] UP ON THE CLIFF, THE CHICKS ARE GROWING FAST.

THE FEMALE FALCON IS HUNTING HARD.

THE MALE IS DOING SOMETHING, AT LEAST, EVEN IF HE'S JUST BRINGING IN SMALLER PREY.

[ CHICKS CALLING ] AS SOON AS SHE'S TAKEN THE FOOD FROM HIM, SHE SENDS HIM OUT HUNTING AGAIN.

[ CALLING ] TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

THE WOLVES MOVE OVER A RIDGE TOWARD A LAKE.

THEY SPOT WHITE SNOW GEESE.

[ HONKING ] THEY ALSO NOTICE A DIFFERENT WHITE HEAD SWIMMING OUT IN THE WATER.

IT'S THE LOST YEARLING.

SHE JUST HASN'T FIGURED OUT THAT SHE CAN'T SWIM AS FAST AS GEESE.

HER EXTRAORDINARY STAMINA AND BOUNDLESS CURIOSITY ARE THE TRAITS THAT MAKE ALL WOLVES SO ADAPTABLE AND SUCCESSFUL.

THE REST OF THE PACK STARES FROM THE SHORE IN AMAZEMENT.

HER SIBLINGS WELCOME HER HOME WITH EXCITEMENT.

THE OLDER WOLVES SEEM TO SCOLD HER FOR HER ANTICS.

[ BARK ] [ GROWLING ] NOW THAT THEY ARE REUNITED, HER CHANCES OF GETTING A REGULAR MEAL ARE DRAMATICALLY INCREASED.

BY THE MIDDLE OF JULY, THE YOUNG GYRS ARE ALREADY LOOKING LIKE ADULTS.

THEIR PERSONALITIES ARE STARTING TO SHOW.

ONE IS AGGRESSIVE AND SNATCHES FOOD FROM ITS SIBLINGS.

A PALE FEMALE DOMINATES HER SMALLER BROTHER.

THE TIME IS FAST APPROACHING WHEN THIS YEAR'S CHICKS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE TO THE WING THEMSELVES.

THEY'RE ALL CLOSE TO FLYING NOW.

BUT BEFORE THEY DARE TRY, THEY'VE GOT TO STRENGTHEN THEIR WINGS.

[ CALLING ] THE PALE YOUNG FEMALE IS THE BOLDEST AND STEPS CLOSE TO THE DANGEROUS EDGE.

EVEN FOR THE BRAVEST OF FALCONS, THIS FIRST FLIGHT TAKES COURAGE AND DETERMINATION.

IT'S A ROUGH START.

THIS BAD LANDING COULD HAVE BROKEN FEATHERS, PARTICULARLY IF THEY WERE WEAKENED EARLIER IN HER LIFE.

ANY INJURY COULD AFFECT HER HUNTING ABILITY AND DRIVE HER TO STARVATION.

BUT FOR THE MOMENT, THERE IS A MORE IMMEDIATE DANGER.

THE WOLVES ARE SNAPPING UP BIRDS, ESPECIALLY ONES THAT ARE SLOW TO TAKE OFF.

THE YOUNG FALCON IS EXPOSED AND VULNERABLE.

[ CALLING ] A CARELESS LONG-TAILED SKUA HAS BEEN CAUGHT.

THE OWLETS ARE ALL OFF THEIR NEST.

THEY COVER A SURPRISING AMOUNT OF GROUND ON FOOT.

[ CALLING ] THE ADULTS KEEP A LOOKOUT.

THE OWLETS BLEND INTO THE LANDSCAPE, AS LONG AS THEY SIT ON THEIR WHITE SOCKS.

[ CALLING ] THE YOUNG FALCON CLIMBS BACK UP TO THE SAFETY OF THE CLIFFS.

NOW THAT THE PACK IS REUNITED, THE YOUNG FEMALE CAN LEARN SOME ESSENTIAL TEAMWORK.

[ GOOSE HONKING ] A WHOLE PACK OF WOLVES IN THE WATER CONFUSES THE PREY -- ALL THE BETTER TO CATCH AN UNLUCKY SNOW GOOSE.

[ HONKING ] AND THE YOUNG FEMALE FINALLY SUCCEEDS.

FULLY GORGED ON GOOSE, SHE HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY.

DAYS LATER, BACK ON THE AERIE, ALL THE YOUNG FALCONS ARE NOW EAGER TO FLY.

THE PALE FEMALE IS READY TO GIVE HER WINGS A SECOND CHANCE.

THE OTHERS QUICKLY FOLLOW HER EXAMPLE.

THESE YOUNG BIRDS WILL SOON LEAVE THEIR NESTING GROUNDS AND SPEND THE WINTER WANDERING OVER VAST AREAS OF THE SUBARCTIC IN SEARCH OF A PLACE OF THEIR OWN.

THIS WILL REMAIN THEIR PARENTS' TERRITORY.

WITH THREE CHICKS ON THE WING, THE MISFORTUNES OF THE PREVIOUS SEASON HAVE BEEN OVERCOME.

THIS HAS BEEN A GOOD YEAR FOR THE MOTHER GYR.

THE WOLVES AND THE FALCONS HAVE NOW HAD THEIR CHANCE TO BREED.

[ WOLF HOWLING ] [ HOWLING ] THOUGH THE WOLVES DIDN'T RAISE A LITTER THIS YEAR, THE PACK IS STILL TOGETHER, STILL STRONG.

THEY WILL REMAIN ON THE ISLAND FOR THE WINTER, WORKING AS A TEAM TO HUNT MUSK OX.

THE YOUNG FEMALE WAS LUCKY TO SURVIVE HER ADVENTURES.

MAYBE SHE WILL BECOME A BREEDING FEMALE HERSELF IN A FEW SUMMERS' TIME AND START UP A NEW PACK OF HER OWN.

BY THE END OF AUGUST, THE TEMPERATURE STARTS TO DROP QUICKLY.

[ WOLF HOWLING ] FOR ALL THE CHARACTERS THAT SHARED THIS BRIGHTLY LIT SUMMER STAGE, THE LIGHTS ARE NOW DIMMING.

MANY OF THE BIRDS HAVE FLOWN SOUTH, AND THE OTHER ANIMALS ARE DISPERSING.

BY EARLY SEPTEMBER, THE SNOWS RETURN.

SOON THEY WILL CLAIM THE VALLEY, THE ANCIENT NEST, AND A WORLD TURNED WHITE ONCE MORE.