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Merlin        Images © Mark A. Chappell

These fast-flying little falcons breed in the north and winter further south.   Compared to other falcons, such as the American kestrel, peregrine, or aplomado falcon, the merlin has few head markings.   Perhaps its best field mark is the strikingly banded tail.   Merlins feed on large insects and small birds that are captured in flight, and have long toes to facilitate snatching prey out of the air.   This bird, a female, seemed to specialize on dragonflies and for the last several years has spent a few weeks at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area near Riverside, California, putting on a great show for birders and photographers.   She often caught two dragonflies at once.
            More merlin pictures (including other races) are here, here, and here.

  • Canon 5D4 or 7D2; 800 mm f5.6 IS lens, some with 1.4X converter, some with fill-in flash (2017)