Galleries » Bird Galleries » Raptors » Merlin

Merlin

Falco columbarius

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.

Click map markers to reveal further information