Merlin Bird’s Habitat
Northern Europe, England, Ireland and Iceland are the home of the merlin bird, smallest of European falcons. The inhabitants of northern Europe generally migrate south to spend the winter in the Mediterranean and northern Africa, but some years they remain in central Europe, where they can be seen from the end of September until February.
Merlin Birds occurring in England are usually resident. April or early May sees them again in their nesting grounds: moorland, tundras, coastal areas or open woodlands, usually conifer forests, but also in the empty scrub country.
Merlin Bird Information & Facts
Length: 28 cm.
Wingspan: 61 to 64 cm. The male is bluish-grey, the female russet-grey.
Voice: Resembling that of the kestrel and sounding like ‘kikikiki’. The female utters a slow ‘eep-eep’.
Size of Egg: 35.0—44.0 X 28.0—33.8 mm.
The merlin does not build the nest as a rule, laying its eggs in a depression which may be on the ground or a rock ledge, though occasionally it takes over the abandoned nests of crows or other birds.
Merlin Bird’s Breeding
The 3 to 5 eggs are incubated mostly by the hen for 28 to 32 days, the male generally remaining close by on a high perch, though he sometimes relieves the hen. The young leave the nest at the age of four weeks.
The merlin hunts small birds and during the winter in central Europe its diet consists mostly of sparrows, finches, chaffinches and other small common birds. It also captures house martins if they have not already gone south. The diet includes also an abundance of insects and, in dire circumstances, the merlin is known to catch a mouse or other small mammal. It is very agile and can be identified by the conspicuously long, pointed wings, resembling those of the swallow. The merlin was a popular bird in falconry, being trained to hunt small birds.