Friday, August 7, 2009

Camera Critters: Merlin Falcon

One of the lesser known falcons in North America is the merlin. These small falcons, which are only slightly larger then the American kestrel, breed across most of Canada and Alaska. Most spend the winter in the western US, Florida, Mexico, Central America and down into the northern portions of South America. Here in Minnesota there are some merlins that will breed during the summer in the very northern portions of the state but mostly we see merlins during the migration.
I photographed this merlin last September at Park Point in Duluth. It most likely stopped by the park, which is a strip of land that extends into the southern portion of Lake Superior, to do some hunting before continuing its fall migration south. Merlins, like most of the larger falcons, are primarily bird hunters. They use a variety of different methods to hunt including ambush hunting from a discrete perch, low fly overs to flush prey, or stooping, diving, from high above. Their prey typically consists of small to medium size passerines which includes open country birds like sparrows, longspurs and larks as well as woodland birds like vireos, warblers, kinglets and thrush, depending upon the habitat in which they are found. They will supplement their diet with small rodents, lizards and large insects, such as dragonflies. Dragonflies are especially common for immature birds.

16 comments:

♠ ♠ France said...

Bonjour il est bien magnifique
Bravo

Abraham Lincoln said...

A beautiful bird and one that is nearly perfect in what it does. I don't get to see them in my backyard but I do or did have hawks last summer. Not this summer though. Your photos are excellent.

Tom said...

I watched one of these last summer hunting Swallows.. I was on a canal barge watching the swallows when a Merlin swooped down, twisted and turned with great speed and caught a swallow.. It was one of my holiday high lights.

Stunning pictures.

Misty Dawn said...

Spectacular photos and wonderful information! Outstanding post!

Marigold said...

Great post!

Pam said...

Very interesting. I do not believe I have seen one of these in my area.

Melanie D said...

great shots and information!

Janie said...

Interesting bird. Great photos, and fun to learn more about them.

Snap said...

The merlin is one of my favorites (probably because of the name!). Loved your photos. Thanks!

sweet bay said...

Very nice captures. We get some migrants through NC but I have not yet seen one.

Pagan Sphinx said...

I like your write-up on the merlins. I'm not familiar with this bird. I should really read the birding report in the local paper. Sometimes new birds are spotted in the area. It would be fun to go try to find one.

I love birds. I feel sorry for caged one.

Mimi said...

I've not seen one of those I don't think!

Anna said...

Very pretty bird! Thanks for the info.

Sally in WA said...

Beautiful capture!

mimi said...

pretty bird and great captured.

Larry D said...

great post, excellent photos of this beautiful bird.