It was a noisy morning in the backyard. A family of 4 Merlins had shown up to survey the area.
A Merlin is a small falcon and is a a cousin to the well-known Peregrine Falcon.
Merlins seem to like to nest around lakes and there were at least two different nest sites on Crane Lake this summer. The nest sites are usually pretty easy to locate – MERLINS make a lot of noise around the nest. Their call is an extremely harsh grating call – once you learn it you probably won’t forget it. I don’t think they eat fish – their diet consists mostly of small birds, although they also eat small mammals and insects. Well, my yard has been the center of activity lately with large flocks of Pine Siskins and Goldfinches. I’m sure all the chattering of the small birds has attracted more than one predator over the past couple of weeks.
The hunt was successful.
The juvenile Merlin is a streaky brown color. Male adult Merlins are more colorful – they have a bluish-gray back, rufous streaking on their breast and a vertical black stripe on their face. The females are brown versions of the male.
These Falcons are masters of flight – I have seen them streak through the front yard like little fighter planes. In the short time that you might see one, their wings will be in a glide position and when they are in a attack mode they don’t flap their wings at all as they manuveur around buildings and trees. It’s truly incredible – and to witness a successful hunt is even more thrilling. Nature can be cruel and at times hard to watch.