Peak Migration: early Sept – mid-Oct
Record Daily High: 73 on 9 Oct 1998
Record Seasonal High: 362 in 1997
The name is derived from the old French word esmerillon, referring to a female bird in falconry. The name is entirely unrelated to King Arthur’s wizard.
Other names: Pigeon hawk, bullet hawk, little blue corporal.
Hunting habits: Chases down woodland birds, from the size of warblers to teal. Also takes rodents, bats, toads, lizards, snakes, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and other insects, spiders, crayfishes, and scorpions.
Migrating habits: Like most falcons, Merlins do not take advantage of thermals nearly as much as other raptors. They are most often seen shooting by at great speed. Merlins are just as commonly seen near the shoreline as they are at Hawk Ridge.
Nesting habits: Merlins are now nesting regularly in many neighborhoods of Duluth. They choose an abandoned crow nest near the top of a spruce. They lay 5-6 eggs which the female incubates for a month. The male calls noisily whenever he brings food. The young start flying when 25-30 days old, and the noisy calls make families easy to find.
Length: 24-30 cm
Wingspan: 53-68 cm
Weight: Males average 155 grams, females 210 grams. In the world of raptors, females are bigger, stronger, and usually more aggressive than males.
Life expectancy: One banded bird survived 7 years, 10 months.
Image Credits: Michael Furtman