I saw a fleeting glimpse of a bird a few days ago that I suspect was a Merlin that migrated to winter here in Utah and it inspired me to post a few Merlin images today. Merlins do not breed here in Utah but they do breed in Montana which is where I photographed this Prairie Merlin. I saw the Merlin two days in a row in the same general location and both times it was very cooperative. The second morning it had prey that appeared to be frozen so it might have been cached. It was in the low teens that morning.
The first morning the light was low and there were clouds blocking the best light from the sun but I could not resist taking images since it is not every day; or even every month, that I have the opportunity to photograph this fierce little falcon. Another name for Merlins is “Pigeon Hawk” even though it is a falcon and not a hawk.
There are three different populations of Merlins and they differ in overall color, the darkness and shape of the mask, the width of the dark tail-bands and the color of their backs. This bird is the Prairie subspecies, the other two are Pacific and Taiga.
I hope that I will be able to photograph some Merlins this winter because not only are they handsome I also find them very interesting. It would be great to capture them on the wing as they hunt for prey.
Life is good.