A Golden Eagle wheels low looking for an easy meal at a banding station - Photo by Mike Werner  

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Merlin
(Falco columbarius)

Migration Timeframe:

A few Merlins may be spotted passing through in August, but their biggest push is around mid-September. Their numbers are still typically good in early October with a decline toward the end of the month.

Merlins are infrequent migrants, but a few may still be observed into late November. In the last 10 years a grand total of 22 Merlins (3%) have been recorded in the month of November. Click on the graph to the right to enlarge it ...then just use the "X" to close the pop-up window when you're done.



Year

Peak Week

Avg

2002-2007 Sep 22-28 34


Year

Peak Week

Count

2008 Sep 15-21 36


Year

Earliest Obs

Count

Year

Latest Obs

Count

2002-2007 Sep 01 2007 2 2002-2007 Nov 21 2007 1
2008 Sep 04 1 2008 Nov 17 1

 

Where to Watch:

The Merlin is a tough bird to peg to a specific flight line through the hawkwatch area...they simply seem to go almost anywhere and everywhere they like. They are VERY speedy flyers in level flight...and usually cross through the hawkwatch area so fast that visitors who blink will miss them!


High Counts:

During their peak timeframe, it's definitely worth getting there first thing in the morning to catch these speedsters! They often seem to continue to move later in the afternoon as well, after most other species have settled for the night.


1-Year 

Count

1-Month

Count

2007

265

Sep 2007

192


1-Day

Count

1-Hour

Count

Sep 28 2007

38 Sep 10 2006 25

 

Yearly Totals:

The yearly totals for Merlins was disappointing with just 104 tallied...well below both the 10-year and 5-year averages . (averages are based on 1998-2007 and 2003-2007 counts).


Year

Count

Year

Count

Year

Count

1995 130 2000 55 2005 188
1996 36 2001 69 2006 237
1997 84 2002 142 2007 265
1998 53 2003 104 2008 104
1999 116 2004 72 2009 N/A


10-Yr Avg

5-Yr Avg

130

173



Interesting Facts:

  • This species has a population of "city" birds that can typically be found over wintering in urban centres.

  • Those that do migrate will wander as far as Dominican Republic, Columbia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and the Greater Antilles. Others remain in Canada and down through to the southern U.S.

  • Merlins are sexually dimorphic with no size overlap between each sub-species

  • The sub-species of Taiga Merlins (aka Boreal Merlins), breed in our northern Boreal Forests and the Taiga Zone

  • Many stop briefly to perch in the "Merlin Tree" right above the main count site...sometimes bringing a snack to munch on. :)

 

 

 


A merlin in-hand - Photo by Jen and Derek Lyon

 

A merlin streaks past the count area - Photo by Don Taylor

Click on chart image for enlarged version

Click on chart image for enlarged version

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Created: 2007-04-27   2007 Hawk Cliff Foundation  -  All rights reserved