Merlin Perched in a Tree ~ Friday Photos

Merlin perched

 Merlin perched – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 800, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Merlins are winter visitors in the Salt Lake Valley so I have just a few more weeks to attempt photographing them. Merlins are used to be called “pigeon hawks”  because their shape and flight patterns are similar to pigeons. Merlins feed on small mammals, birds as large as doves and apparently they include bats in their diets.

Like other falcons Merlins are strong fliers, can turn very quickly and they can grab their prey in mid air.

I didn’t have the best of light when I photographed the Merlin in the photo above plus the fresh snow on the mountain slope behind the bird produced a high key effect but I liked the Merlin’s pose, the eye contact and the way the branches moved through the frame.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Mia, every time I land on one of your posts in my feed, I see the most extraordinary visions. This is so beautiful, with the bird isolated against that background … it took my breath away.

  2. Wonderful capture Mia. Amazing with that light and those settings what a wonderful photo you took, shows your skill.

  3. Fantastic shot! I’ve yet to photograph one. The ones I’ve encountered were very skittish.

  4. Gorgeous shot, Mia!

  5. There’s something particularly striking and powerful about raptors in the snow.

  6. Lovely image, Mia! I really like the crispness of the beautiful Merlin against the soft background. Stunning capture!

  7. Great shot, Mia. I love the high key effect, and I love the way you juxtiposed the Merlin off to the right. With the branches it makes a delightful compsition.

  8. Lovely image of a good looking raptor. I sure have problems when the background or large parts of it are very bright. I have not been to successful so far, but I will keep trying. Your have handled these situations so well.

    • Hi Skip,

      Merlins are handsome birds, I wish I had more images of them. High key backgrounds are challenging but doable and they can produce very dramatic results. Thanks for your comment.

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