Bird Watcher's Digest: Home Bird Watcher's Digest Magazine Watching Backyard Birds Newsletter The Bird Watcher's Digest App Bird Watcher's Digest Nature Shop

Bird Identification

Merlin

Falco columbarius, Length: 12"

play song/call of the merlin

Look For

The merlin is a medium-sized falcon, larger than an American kestrel and more heavily streaked overall. Its streakiness makes it look very dark. In flight, the merlin is a direct and speedy flier, and it rarely hovers (as kestrels do) or perches in one place for extended periods.

Listen For

A high-pitched kii-kii-kii-kii.

Remember

The male is dark above and the female is brown above, and both are heavily streaked with brown below. Some birds show a dark mustache and hood. The merlin lacks the bold facial marks of the larger peregrine falcon and the rusty coloration of the smaller American kestrel.

Find it

Prefers open country in all seasons, including prairies, beaches, shorelines, and marshes. The merlin is increasingly common in towns and cities, especially in the Great Plains. It is more common in the West, although populations are increasing in the East.

Wow!

A merlin may visit your backyard feeders looking for a bird to eat, but this is not a common occurrence (as it is with more regular backyard hunters such as sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks).

Merlin bird call provided courtesy of Lang Elliot, www.musicofnature.org. This profile is an excerpt from Identifying and Feeding Birds by Bill Thompson, III. Purchase an autographed copy from our nature store, and check out other BWD titles designed to help you identify backyard birds.

You Might Like

Additional References Suggested by Google:

The Backyard Bird Watcher's Answer Guide

This booklet answers 101 of the most-often-asked questions about birds. Bird Watcher's Digest editor Bill Thompson, III has compiled material from the magazine's decades of answering questions, offering tips and solving problems for backyard bird watchers. Only $4.99 in our store!

An Identification Guide to Common Backyard Birds

This booklet is designed to introduce you to-and help you identify-many of the most common feeder birds in North America. For each species you will find a color photograph, notes about how to identify the species, a summary of its range and the times of year it is present, and general information about the food and the type of feeder it prefers. Only $4.99 in our store!

Thistle Sock Bird Feeder

Sock it to the birds! This Thistle Sock feeder attracts a variety of thistle-loving birds. Its quality nylon construction allows you to enjoy its visitors all season long. Very easy to use and clean. Only $5.00 in our store!

Identifying and Feeding Birds

This readable, friendly guide is intended for bird watchers and non-bird watchers alike—for anyone who wants to enjoy nature right in his or her own backyard. The longtime editor of Bird Watcher's Digest and author of numerous books on birds, Bill Thompson, III, has been feeding and watching birds for 40 years. He has tried everything, and he shares what he's learned so that readers can avoid the mistakes and skip right to successful bird feeding. Only $14.95 in our store!

Pajaro Original Waist Pack

The Pajaro Field Bag has become the outdoor enthusiast's best friend. Its seven pockets are perfect for carrying binoculars, field guides, maps, pens, etc. Made of rugged Cordura fabric, it's lightweight and designed for maximum comfort. Only $35.99 in our store!

Announcing the Optics Annual 2014--a FREE eBook by BWD!