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Merlin in-flight, Palisades Cliff, New Jersey

December 9, 2013

One of the two Merlins (Falco columbarius), that can be seen very often hunting and harassing Blue Jays at the State Line Lookout, Palisades, Bergen County, New Jersey.

NJ Bird Photography - Merlin in-flight photographed at State Line Lookout, Palisades Cliffs, New Jersey with Canon 1Dx 600mm II f/4 IS 1.4x extender

>Photograph taken with a 1Dx camera and 600mm f/4 lens II + 1.4x extender III – for larger view and EXIF data, please click on the image

Interesting facts:

“- Merlin pairs have been seen teaming up to hunt large flocks of waxwings: one Merlin flushes the flock by attacking from below; the other comes in moments later to take advantage of the confusion.

– Merlins don’t build their own nests. Instead, they take over the old nests of other raptors or crows. They also use magpie nests, sometimes laying eggs right on top of the nest’s dome rather than inside the cavity.

– Though it’s not much bigger than the more common American Kestrel, the Merlin is heavier and often appears considerably larger. As with most raptors, female Merlins are larger than males.

– The name “Merlin” comes from esmerillon, the old French name for the species. Merlins used to be called “pigeon hawks” because in flight they look somewhat pigeon-like. Their species name, columbarius, is also a reference to pigeons. –

Medieval European noblewomen used Merlins for sport to hunt Skylarks. European and North American falconers continue to work with Merlins, hunting quarry that ranges from sparrow-sized to dove-sized.

– The oldest known Merlin was at least 11 years, 11 months old. It was banded as an adult in New York in 1982 and recovered in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1993. ” – source Cornell Lab

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