Merlin

Falco columbarius

Order

FALCONIFORMES

Family

Caracaras and Falcons (Falconidae)

Code 4

MERL

Code 6

FALCOL

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Merlin has a large range, estimated globally at 10,000,000 square kilometers. Native to the Americas, Europe and Asia, and spotted in parts of Africa this bird prefers forest, shrubland, grassland, and marine ecosystems. The global population of this bird is estimated at 100,000 to 1,000,000 individuals and does not show signs of decline that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. For this reason, the current evaluation status of the Merlin is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Merlin: This small falcon has blue-gray upperparts, white to pale brown underparts with dark streaks, white throat, eye ring, and eyebrow, dark gray bill, brown or black barred tail with white tips. Pacific race is dark gray. Prairie race is light gray. Taiga race is a mixture. Females of all races are duller. Diet includes mostly small birds. Swift direct flight with rapid wing beats.


Range and Habitat

Merlin: Breeds from Alaska east through southern Nunavut to Newfoundland and south to Wyoming, Montana, and northern New England. Spends winters mainly in the southern U.S. north along the west coast up to British Columbia and on the east coast to southern New England. Preferred habitats include coniferous forests.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"ki-ki-kee", "kek-kek-kek", "klee-klee-klee"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • In Europe, Merlins will roost communally in winter, often with Hen Harriers. In North America, this is rare, and it is well known for fiercely attacking any birds of prey that it encounters.
  • In medieval Europe, they were popular in falconry.
  • In North America it is sometimes called "pigeon hawk", though being a falcon it is not very closely related to true hawks.
  • A group of merlins has many collective nouns, including a "brace", "leash", and "illusion" of merlins.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Merlin

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Michael Oberhofer

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX
Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.
UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Eye ringX
The circle around the eye formed of feathers that are a different color from the rest of the face.
EyebrowX
Also called the supercilicum or superciliary it is the arch of feathers over each eye.
FaceX
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Upper mandibleX
The upper part of the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X