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Friday, September 07, 2007

When Merlins Attack

On my way into the office this morning I stopped by Pine Run, hoping to find some shorebird habitat. Water levels were pretty high, so no luck. But I did get to spend a few moments watching an immature Cooper's Hawk working the edges of the lake, scattering a few Killdeer in its path. Then out of nowhere a very dark Merlin dive-bombed the young accipiter, then just as quickly it rose high in the air and winged off to the west. Seems like more than half the times I see a Merlin its a bird harassing a larger bird of prey. Feisty fellows, these small falcons!


bmclock said...

Strangely enough I had a similar experience this past weekend during the Montezuma Muckrace in upstate NY. We were on Howland Island and spotted a perched Merlin, a Cooper's Hawk dove at the perched bird, a chase ensued in which the Coop was the very competent agressor. I thought at certain points in the chase that the Merlin was done for. Only once in the chase did the Merlin briefly turn the tables on the Coop. Thanks, Ben Clock

N8 said...

A better birder than I once told me that it's not a real Merlin unless it's harassing every other raptor in sight.

Anonymous said...

Merlins move so fast most of the time that we don't see them often _unless_ they're doing something conspicuous like dive-bombing a larger raptor. I always think of David Sibley's images in _Hawks in Flight_, as evocative as they are accurate.

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