MerlinLatin name: Falco columbarius

Length, wingspan: 10″, 24″

What they eat: Primarily birds, occasionally small mammals

Habitat: Woodlands adjoining open areas

Where they nest: In abandoned nests of other larger birds, sometimes tree cavities.

My observations: Also known as the “pigeon hawk” for its similar size, Merlins are the second-smallest type of falcon (with American Kestrels being the smallest). In March 2015, we were surprised to see this one sitting on a pole at the front corner of our yard, munching away on a small bird it had caught. And it was nice enough to pose for several photos — as long as I kept at a safe distance, of course! The birds are beautifully marked, generally with dark plumage, although some types have lighter coloration. If you have a sharp eye, you’ll see Merlins sitting in the tops of conifers in city neighborhoods, where they are watching for small, unsuspecting birds. They actually nest in different areas of our city and are seen year-round in this region.

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