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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Merlin


For several years now, this small falcon has returned to this location every spring to breed and raise its young.  No one can mistake its high-pitched, insistent cry.  The Merlin catches its prey (mainly songbirds) in the air and can reach speeds as high as 70 km/h.

On the day I took these pictures, the Merlin was perched in a poplar tree, preening, stretching and surveying his territory.  He looked dishevelled and had a few downy feathers sticking out. A little while later he flew to where a female was waiting in another tree.

In late April to early May the female will lay four to five eggs.  The incubation period is four weeks, and the chicks will be ready for flight at around 25 - 27 days.  The fledglings will remain near the nest for another four to five weeks, gaining strength and learning to hunt.