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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, visible in several of these photos.   Merlins feed on large insects -- especially dragonflies, as shown here -- and small birds that are captured in flight, and have long toes to facilitate snatching prey out of the air.   The birds in these images are mainly females; one is of the very pale 'prairie' race.   I took the pictures at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area near Riverside, California.
            More merlin pictures are here, here, and here.

  • Canon 7D2; 800 mm f5.6 IS lens (2016-2018)