The Merlin is a pigeon-sized falcon. It has markedly pointed wings. Coloring varies; often it is grayish blue on the back and streaked in front. Many individuals have a faint white eyebrow. The tail often has black horizontal bands.
The Merlin is an “aerial forager,” meaning it is adept at catching birds in flight. Its diet is mainly smaller birds. It will perch patiently for long periods, but once it sights prey it swoops and turns with remarkable speed. In recent decades this species has shifted partly to urban environments, perhaps because sparrows are abundant there.
What brings it to the SBG?
Food. Enough said!
When can I see it?
Mainly in migration season (spring and fall) although e-bird shows that merlins have been spotted in Centre County in December and January. The Merlin’s breeding grounds are far to the north and its wintering grounds are well to the south.