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Flying Claws

Flying Claws
Photo Information
Copyright: Dave Holland (daveman) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 24 W: 2 N: 44] (172)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2006-07
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon 20D, Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS USM, 52mm Circular Polarizer
Details: Tripod: Yes
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): City Birds, Birds of Prey- RAPTORS (II) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-03-18 22:48
Viewed: 4545
Points: 22
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The Prairie Merlin has made a dramatic recovery over the past decade in Urban North America. These small falcons live in an ecological niche that larger raptors avoid because of human pressure. They are largely urban dwellers, living in cities and hunting in treed urban parks. This Merlin had a nest in my neighbor's front yard. They hunt as falcons, flying down small birds and capturing them in mid-air. With a classical falcon beak, they kill prey with a bite to the back of the neck. Notice the unusually long fingers, adapted to mid-flight captures.

These are usually easy to identify, as most other raptors are much larger. Occasionally, from a distance these might be confused with the kestril, but when you watch the Merlin fly there will be no mistake. The Merlin flies like a fighter pilot, hard and direct, with surprising speed. They fly quickly along treelines, cruizing the treetops, scanning for unwary songbirds. There is no hovering or fluttering as is often seen with the kestril. The Merlin call is angry, chattering, annoying. Merlins are competitive and antisocial, willing to challenge any trespass, even from larger raptors.

(above taken from personal experience and "Hawks in Flight" by Dunne, Sibley, and Sutton, 1988).

septama, elefantino, Raptorman, greenpinkorange, Debz, MMM, Adanac, delic, TheMystic has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Adanac: Wilddaveman 1 03-22 18:31
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Critiques [Translate]

Nice sharp photo you have here. looks like he is going for food

nice capture of this fast moving bird, sharp focus and good detail, looks like the bird just take off

Hi Dave,
Welcome to TrekNature!
Excellent scene, with good composition. Too bad the photo is not 100% sharp. Still, it is a great shot.


Eccellente cattura al volo.

Hello Dave , excellent flight and action photo , claws are very impressive , TFS.

It seems to be staring at you as it's flying. That's a double win for a flight picture which i also congratulate you for.
Good colors, sharpness and clarity.

Hi Dave,
Good composition. Yes photo is not sharp but still great shot.


  • Great 
  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-03-19 9:02]

Hi Dave, what a great shot of this wonderful Falcon. Good sharpness and focus, great detail on wings, well set against the clear blue sky.

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2007-03-19 9:10]

Hi Dave
Nice composition, Good action picture and good DOF.The view of the claws make the picture very impressive .I aggreed on the sharpness but it is a good picture.

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2007-03-22 16:22]
  • [+]

Hi Dave,
Welcome to TrekNature, not sure how I missed your first posting. This inflight has many great qualities but is a little soft. The composition, colors and subject are all great as is your note. If you don't mind where was he captured.

  • Great 
  • delic Gold Star Critiquer [C: 440 W: 6 N: 310] (898)
  • [2007-03-30 2:18]

Hello Dave,
I must have a missed your photos during this period when I was overrun by work. This is certainly quite impressive and it must have been a difficult shot to get. Really sharp for an in-flight photo, esp. the face, beak and the claws. Well done. Regards,

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