Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Ciconiiformes / Falconidae / Falco / Species
Falco columbarius - Merlin (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Faucon émerilon (French)
  • Merlin (German)
  • Smeriglio (Italian)
  • Esmerejón (Spanish)
  • Stenfalk (Swedish)
  • Smelleken (Dutch)

Names for newly-hatched

Chick

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

 

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B89, B104, B162, B163, B164, B165, B166

Aviculture references:

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  •  Birds of Prey

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • Birds of Prey

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Aviculture Information

Notes

--
Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length
  • 26-33cm (B164); 30cm (B165); 27-32cm/10-13 inches (B166)
  • Wingspan 55-69cm (B164)
Adult weight General --
Male 125-234g (B104)
Female 164-300g (B104)
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Base blue-horn darkening to tip black; cere yellow-green (B104)
Variations (If present) --
Eyes Male Dark brown (B104)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Bill Base blue-horn darkening to tip black; cere blue-yellow to green-yellow (B104)
Eyes (Iris) Black, later dark grey to dark brown (B104)

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Legs

Adult Male Yellow (B165, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Yellow (B104)

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Plumage

Adult Male
  • Head: crown blue-grey, moustache only indistinct, throat buff/white
  • Upperparts blue-grey.
  • Throat buff, chest and abdomen buff/rusty-yellow with fine dark streaks
  • Tail medium length blue-grey with broad dark terminal band
  • Wings sharply pointed upper surface blue-grey, primaries darker. Under surface heavily barred

B164, B165, B166

Variations (If present) Female:
  • Head and upperparts brown-grey. pale, 
  • Throat whitish, Chest and abdomen pale with heavy streaking, particularly on breast B166
  • Tail paler brown with several (about 5) darker bands; broad terminal dark band.
  • Wings upper surface brown, under surface coverts buff with heavy darker barring, Flight feathers whitish with heavy dark barring B166

B164, B165, B166

Juvenile Similar to female, upperparts slightly browner, primary coverts barred pale rufous rather than uniform B164, B166

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

Semi-altricial, helpless, downy (B163, B166).

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year April to May (B166).
No. of Clutches One (B163, B166).

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Nest placement and structure

Hollow on the ground with a little vegetation lining, or in scrub or using nest of crow or other raptor in tree (B164, B163, B166).

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 5-6 (B163, B166).
Range 2-7 (B163).
Egg colour Buff with heavy reddish/brown spotting; length 40mm (B163, B166).

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Incubation

28-32 days (B163, B166).

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Hatching

Usually synchronous (B163).

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Fledging

25-32 days (B163); 25-30 days (B166).

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Sexual Maturity

Males One year old (B104)
Females One year old (B104)

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Horizontal chases and prolonged aerial pursuits; flies fast and low; sometimes hunt in pairs (B164, B163, B166).
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building By female (B163).
Incubation By both parents but mainly by female (B163, B166).
Newly-hatched Fed by both parents (B163).
Juveniles

--

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Solitary and territorial (B163, B166).
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Monogamous (B163).

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Predation in Wild

--

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Activity Patterns

  • Perches openly, takes off and lands from the ground as well as from vegetation.
  • Strong and powerful flight, soaring, gliding and aerial dives.
  • (B166)
Circadian Diurnal.

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Natural Diet

Adults

Small birds (B164, B163, B166).

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Newly-hatched

--

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Northern Europe, Northern Asia, North America (B163); Holarctic (B89)
  • In Britain: resident in northern and western upland moorland/hilly districts, elsewhere (mainly on coasts) winter visitor. (B165, B166).

Movements:

  • Northern populations migratory to southern and western Europe (B164, B163)
  • Winters to north-west Africa, Mediterranean, south-east Asia, northern South America (B89)
Occasional and Accidental --
Introduced

 --

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Habitat

Moors, estuaries and freshwater marshes (B166);
  • Breeding: on fells in birch and willow zones, on taiga bogs, open coastal areas, heathland (B164); open areas particularly hilly moorland (B163)
  • Winter: open areas including coasts and farmland (B163)

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

--

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Long-term declines in Britain, also probably in Sweden and Finland (B163).

General Legislation
  • This species is listed on Schedule 1 - Part I (Birds protected by special penalties: Notes on the revised schedules state "Birds protected by special penalties at all times") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
  • This species is listed on Schedule 4 (Birds which must be registered and ringed if kept in captivity: Notes on the revised schedules state "Any bird, one of whose parents or other lineal ancestor was a bird of a kind specified in the above list") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
CITES listing Listing not yet included.
Red-data book listing Listing not yet included.
Threats Human disturbance (B163).

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Captive Populations

--

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Trade

--

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