Bird of the Week – Merlin


Here’s another falcon, slightly smaller than last week’s Peregrine Falcon.

Merlin, Denali Highway, Alaska

Merlin, Denali Highway, Alaska

The Merlin is a remarkably fierce predator; WC has watched them kill and fly off with birds as large as a Lesser Yellowlegs. An adult female Merlin weighs  about 8.5 ounces; a Lesser Yellowlegs weighs about 3 ounces. That’s 40% of the Merlin’s weight.

Merlin with Lesser Yellowlegs, Delta Agricultural Fields, Alaska

Merlin with Lesser Yellowlegs, Delta Agricultural Fields, Alaska

Merlins seem to prefer open and semi-open areas, nesting on the edges of fields or swamps. Their primary prey is small (and not so small) birds. Alaska’s Merlins are all migratory; the winter from the Southwestern U.S. down to Central America. They breed across Alaska, but are uncommon; the most reliable nesting site to see Merlins is along the road in Denali National Park, part way up to Highway Pass.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

 

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