Merlin perched Merlin perched in a tree – 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.