Merlin Falcon

Name

Merlin Falcon

Scientific Name

Falco columbarius

Characteristics

The Merlin is an extremely fast and agile hunter. Their small size allows them to fly low to the ground and 'hang' in the breeze to pursue their prey. Adult merlins may be preyed on by larger raptors such as peregrine falcons and eagle owls. However, carnivorous birds will avoid merlins due to their aggressiveness and agility.

The adult male and female’s plumage differs in appearance, and the female is larger than the male. Male merlins are blue-grey above, with a grey head and orangey-cream underparts that are streaked in black. Females are mainly grey-brown, with dark streaking underneath. The juveniles are similar in appearance to the female.

Pairs begin to bond 1-2 months prior to egg-laying and remain monogamous throughout the breeding season. Courtship rituals involve various aerial displays, food sharing, and nest displays.

Diet

Small birds make up the majority of the merlin’s diet

Size Fact

The Merlin is the smallest European falcon.

Food Fact

They also feed on large insects, especially dragonflies.

Fun Fact

They used to be called “pigeon hawks” as they look pigeon- like in flight.

IUCN Red List

The Merlin is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Where do I live?

Occurring throughout much of the northern hemisphere, the Merlin has a very large range.

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