2020-11-20 Mid-November Gallery Updates

Merlin - Falco columbariusI know I’ve been posting a lot lately about the updates on the bird species galleries I’ve been doing. This updating process is going to take a while. After all, there are over 450 species in the collection to address. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how I originally sculpted the galleries when we were constructing the new web system, but I thought if I presented an example of the before-and-after results, it might better illustrate the goals I’ve set for the species descriptions. 

Recently I updated the gallery for the Merlin (Falco columbarius). I thought it would be informative to share the comparison below to illustrate the changes from the original text and provide an insight on how I am updating these accounts. You will notice the “Original” version is overly brief. I hastily composed it to provide the framework for the gallery. There was no time to elaborate on the original account, because there were so many species to address, I felt I could not afford the time to obsess on the details.

Original text:

The Merlin is a small falcon found across most of North and Central America and into a small portion of northern South America.

Updated Text:

The Merlin is a small falcon found across most of the northern hemisphere. In earlier times, we called them Pigeon Hawks, because in flight, they appeared like pigeons. Today their species name (columbarius, from the Latin for dove) reminds us of their old name.

Science recognises three North American subspecies of Merlin, plus seven more in Eurasia. The three North American members are: F.c. columbarius or Taiga Merlin, F.c. richardsonii or Prairie Merlin, and F.c. suckleyi or Black Merlin. The Taiga Merlin migrates from Canada and the northern USA to Central and South America. The other two birds are residents in their territory. Prairie Merlins make their homes in the Great Plains from Alberta to Wyoming, while Black Merlins stay on North America’s west coast from Alaska to Washington.

I don’t frequently see Merlins, and when I do, I rarely get opportunities to photograph them. When I see them in flight, they move so fast it is difficult to capture an image. When I find them perched, often they are too distant for adequate image captures. Perhaps one day I’ll find more ideal conditions.

I haven’t been systematic in selecting the galleries for editing. Starting at the top and working down the list would be one approach I could use, but I’m neither that smart nor that industrious. For the time being, I’m using the most recent birds I’ve been meeting to prioritize the species updates. I just finished going through the species accounts for the birds I met in Henderson Nevada. Following is a list of those species: