Merlin - Pacific Forest Trust




Latin Name: Falco columbarius

Status: No special status

Population: Canada and Alaska (summer). Southwest U.S. and Central America (winter)

Diet: Mostly smaller birds, occasionally small mammals

Weight: 5.6–8.5 ounces

Length: 9.4–11.8 inches

About the Merlin

Merlins are small members of the falcon family, but unlike larger falcons, they fly using rapid wingbeats in place of gliding. Given their small size, they used to be referred to as “lady hawks” in the middle ages.

When they hunt, Merlins either perch on a treetop and scan the area for prey or, once prey is spotted, pursue their target at top speed. When they are in pursuit of prey, Merlins can reach speeds over 30 miles per hour. They can be difficult to spot with the naked eye at top speed.

Female Merlins lay 4-5 eggs at a time, however, these animals do not build their own nests. Instead, merlins take over old nests built by hawks, crows, ravens, etc. Therefore, nest size can vary greatly depending on which species built the nest in use. Merlins rarely reuse a nest during the subsequent season.

For more information: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Photography: Image #1 by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Pacific Region, Image #2 by Jon Nelson.


The merlin lives in the following habitats:

How you can help this species

The merlin needs your help to preserve its natural habitat. Together, with Pacific Forest Trust and our network of partners, we can all protect the spaces this species needs to survive.

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Conservation PROJECTS WITH

The Pacific Forest Trust is dedicated to preserving natural habitats and forest systems where these animals can thrive. Explore some of our conservation projects and easements in and around merlin habitat.