October 1, 2014 -- Fall is time for
raptor watching. Chuck Tague captured this image of
a Merlin last year at Viera Wetlands. This small, very
fast member of the falcon family (Falco columbarius) over
fields and in open woods capturing small birds and insects in
midair by flying in a level plane and finishing with an abrupt
turn. Females are larger than males. Wings are short
and pointed, always angular. The bird appears very dark in
Merlins have three separate populations which
differ in overall color, reflected in the prominence of the dark
"mustache," width of dark tail-bands and the color of the back.
Tiaga birds are widespread, wintering along both coasts of the
US. Prairie birds winter from Canada to Mexico in Central
US, and the Black populations winters along the Pacific coast
south or California, but rarely east to New Mexico.
Facts above gathered from The Sibley Guide to