merlin (Falco columbarius)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.

 

IDENTIFICATION

  • Length: 12 inches Wingspan: 23 inches

  • Short, dark, hooked beak

  • Small, long-tailed hawk

  • Long, pointed wings, broad at the base

  • Thin, pale black mustache mark

  • Underwings checkered with black and white

  • Juveniles and immature females like adult female

  • Three distinct races occur in North America

Taiga merlin (Falco columbarius columbarius)

  • Breeds in northern Canadian boreal forests from Newfoundland to           Alaska and winters in the southern United States; migrants occur fre-     quently along both coasts but are rare inland

  • Flight feathers dark above

  • Faint dark mustache mark

Adult male:

  • Dark blue-gray back, paler than suckleyi but darker than richard-               sonii

  • Dark tail has wide, complete, blue-gray bands

Adult female:

  • Dark, brownish back

  • Brown tail has narrow, complete buffy bands

Prairie merlin (Falco columbarius richardsonii)

  • Breeder and resident in prairies of south-central Canada and the upper  Midwest of the United States with some moving south to New Mexico

  • Large spots on flight feathers visible from above

  • Lacks mustache mark

Adult male:

  • Pale supercilium

  • Pale brown cheeks

  • Pale blue-gray back

  • Blue gray tail with narrow black bands

Adult female:

  • Pale supercilium

  • Pale brown cheeks

  • Pale brown back

  • Complete white bands on brown tail

Black merlin (Falco columbarius suckleyi)

  • Resident in upper Pacific Coast forests from British Colombia to            Alaska, occasionally straying to New Mexico in winter

  • Very dark back, wings and head

  • Dark mustache mark

  • Flight feathers dark above

Adult male:

  • Blue-gray cast seen in good light

  • Black tail with incomplete blue-gray bands

Adult female:

  • Dark tail with very faint tail bands

Similar species:

American kestrel is similar in size and shape, but has two mustache marks,
reddish-brown about head, narrower wings and lacks checkerboard pattern
of underwings. Peregrine is much larger with a much bolder mustache mark
and not so strongly checkered underwings. Prairie falcon has a bolder
mustache mark, white between the eye and the mustache mark and black
axillars.

 

LIFE HISTORY

Migration Status: Neotropical migrant
Breeding Habitat: WoodlandNest
Location: N/A
Nest Type: N/A
Clutch Size: 4-6
Length of Incubation: 28-32 days
Days to Fledge: 30-35
Number of Broods: 1
Diet: Almost exclusively birds; lesser quantities of small mammals, insects

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION/SEASONAL OCCURRENCE

 

Relative abundance and seasonal occurrence are indicated in red below.

 

Relative abundance
     C - Common: Likely to be present in good numbers in appropriate habitat and season.
     U - Uncommon: May be present in appropriate habitat and season, often in low
            numbers.
     O - Occassional: Found in appropriate habitat perhaps only a few times per season,
            sometimes low numbers.
     R - Rare: May not be recorded every year.
     Acc - Accidental: Recorded once or twice, may not be expected again for a long time.

 

Seasonal Occurrence
      Sp - Spring: March, April, May
      Su - Summer: June, July, August
      Fall: September, October, November
R

      Winter: December, January, February

 

 

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