The first bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a small falcon with a widespread range: the Merlin!
The Merlin is a small-sized falcon found across much of the northern hemisphere. For the most part they are migratory, breeding in the northern Holarctic (northern parts of the Old World and New World) and wintering in the tropics and subtropics. They are found in a wide variety of habitats, including open prairies, taiga forest, and shrubland.
Merlins are also sometimes known as pigeon hawks. This is an old colloquial name used in North America. Merlins are similar in size to Rock Pigeons and somewhat resemble them in flight -- hence the name. There are even pigeons in their scientific name, Falco columbarius. Pigeons and doves are in the family Columbidae. As birds of prey, Merlins may also hunt and successfully take a Rock Pigeon as a meal. Like Great Horned Owls and some other birds, Merlins don't build their own nests. They reuse stick nests made by other birds, mostly crows or other raptors. Merlin joins Birdorable today as our 558th species, our 39th bird of prey, and our 9th falcon. If you like Merlins as much as we do, be sure to check out our selection of cute Birdorable Merlin t-shirts and gifts. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with an LBJ with a lot of range. Can you guess tomorrow's species?