Monday, January 2, 2012


‘Tis the season for hawks and other raptors.  This time of year, if we keep an eye out, we will often see many species of raptors not resident to our area.  Driving the highways one often is treated to displays and spectacles of hawks in good numbers and frequency.  One our trip this New Year’s Eve, I was surprised to see a pair of Red Tail Hawks side by side on the high light pole of I-35.
Photograph by Bryan Stone, copyrighted

One falcon that has become a favorite visitor for me is the Merlin.  It is slightly larger than a Kestrel.  We most frequently see the females or immatures.  They are mostly dull brown, streaked breast, lack a facial pattern of note, have broader wings than kestrels, and the long tail characteristic of falcons.  This species likes open woodlands and wooded prairies and grasslands. 

The Merlin hunts small birds and rodents.  It will also take insects.  Unlike the kestrel it does not hover-hunt.  It catches its prey with a burst of speed without diving.

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