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Prairie Merlin

Falco columbarius


Merlins are small, fierce falcons that use surprise attacks to bring down small songbirds and shorebirds. They are powerful fliers, but you can tell them from larger falcons by their rapid wingbeats and overall dark tones. Medieval falconers called them “lady hawks,” and noblewomen used them to hunt Sky Larks. Merlin populations have largely recovered from twentieth-century declines, thanks to a ban on the pesticide DDT and their ability to adapt to life around towns and cities. Merlins are small falcons with a powerful build that is broader and stockier than the slightly smaller American Kestrel. Merlins have sharply pointed wings, a broad chest, and a medium length tail. Merlins are generally dark and streaky, though their coloration varies geographically and by gender. Adult male Merlins are slaty gray to dark gray; females and immatures are browner. The chest is usually heavily streaked and the underwings are dark. The dark tail has narrow white bands, and the face often lacks a prominent malar or “mustache” stripe.


Agricultural Land


This is the first half way decent photo I have ever taken of a merlin!

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EmilyMarino 6 years ago

Thank you everyone! @Desmond.E.S.O, there are several subspecies of merlin in North America. The Prairie Merlin and Taiga Merlin are the two we see in Colorado. For your reference:

jeslowery 6 years ago

Great photo!

Desmond.E.S.O 6 years ago

Sorry... I thought that they were just called Merlins, not Prairie merlins.

AshleyT 6 years ago

Desmond, why do you keep suggesting an ID on spottings already identified? I have asked you so many times to please stop doing it, and I keep deleting all of them behind you anyways. If you want to suggest an ID on unidentified spottings, then fantastic, go for it. PLEASE stop doing it on ones already identified!

EmilyMarino 6 years ago

Thank you James!

James McNair
James McNair 6 years ago

Gorgeous shot Emily

Spotted by

Brighton, Colorado, USA

Spotted on Jan 6, 2015
Submitted on Jan 7, 2015

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