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beauty comes in small packages

beauty comes in small packages
Photo Information
Copyright: Catalin Josan (methos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 213 W: 51 N: 281] (1189)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-04-29
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel XTi, Sigma 150mm F2.8 APO Macro DG HSM, HOYA 72mm UV
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/2000 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-04-30 15:24
Viewed: 4843
Points: 16
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This is shot in the same place as the eagle posted yesterday.

The Merlin (Falco columbarius) is a smallish falcon that breeds in northern North America, Europe and Asia. In North America it was once known as the pigeon hawk.

This bird of prey is 24-33 cm (9.5-13 in) long with a 53-69 cm (21-27 in) wingspan. Males average at about 165 g (5.8 oz) and females are typically about 230 g (8 oz). Compared to other small falcons, they are more robust and heavily built. The male Merlin has a blue-grey back and orange-tinted underparts. The female and immature are dark brown above and whitish spotted with brown below. American subspecies range from pale (Great Plains) to nearly black (Pacific Northwest). Besides a weak eye-stripe in adults, the faces are less strongly patterned than most falcons. Being closer in size and shape than most falcons, they are sometimes confused for Rock Pigeons and other pigeons. A few moments of watching the rocketing flight and aggressive behavior of a Merlin will ensure the bird-watcher that they're not looking at a pigeon.

It breeds in open country such as moorland, taiga or willow or birch scrub. Like the larger Peregrine Falcon, it is migratory, wintering in more temperate regions. Northern European birds move to southern Europe and North Africa, and North American populations to the southern USA and northern South America. In winter, the Merlin may be found in almost any open country, from coasts to prairies to desert scrub. In the mildest parts of its breeding range, such as Great Britain, it will desert higher ground and move to coasts and lowland.

In Europe, Merlins will roost communally in winter, often with Hen Harriers. In North America, communal roosting is rare, and Merlins are well known for fiercely attacking any birds of prey that they encounter, even adult eagles.

Merlins rely on speed and agility to hunt their prey. They often hunt by flying fast and low, typically less than 1 metre above the ground, trying to take prey by surprise. Prey will sometimes attempt to outfly the Merlin, which result in the falcon "tail-chasing" after them. Most of their prey are smallish birds (10-40 g), with local preferences for larks, pipits, sandpipers and House Sparrows. Almost any bird that is locally abundant will be taken, up to the size of Rock Pigeons. Breeding pairs will frequently hunt cooperatively, with one bird flushing the victims towards their mate. Other prey includes insects (especially dragonflies and moths), small mammals (especially bats and voles) and reptiles.

Most Merlins will use abandoned corvid or hawk nests which are in conifer or mixed tree stands. They will also set up a nest on cliff-faces and on the ground. In the UK, the female will usually make a shallow scrape on heather moorland to use as a nest. They have a preference for long heather so are susceptible to over management, by burning. Most nest sites have dense vegetative or rocky cover. Three to five (usually four) eggs are laid. The rusty brown eggs average at about 40 x 31.5 mm (1.58 x 1.24 in). The incubation period is 28 to 32 days. The female does almost all of the incubating, while the male hunts and feeds both her and their young. Hatchlings are about 13 g and are brooded for about 7 days. The fledging stage is reached at about 29 days and are dependant on their parents for up to 4 weeks. Sometimes first-year Merlins (especially males) will choose to serve as a "nest helper" for an adult pair. Corvids are the primary threat to eggs and nestlings. Adult Merlins may be preyed on by larger raptors, especially Peregrine Falcons, Great Horned Owls and larger Accipiter hawks (like Goshawks), but most other birds avoid Merlins due to their aggressiveness.

In medieval Europe, Merlins were popular in falconry. Pesticides, in rising the levels of DDE, can affect the success of breeding Merlins. By far the most serious threat to these birds is habitat clearance, especially in their breeding areas.
From wikipedia

Silvio2006, manyee, Raptorman, ellis49, thistle has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2007-04-30 15:32]

Hello Catalin,
Fantastic portrait of this Merlin. Wonderful colours, very sharp with a lot of details.
DOF, POV and compositon are great. To me it's a master-piece.

stunning portrait of this incredibly beautiful bird! very sharp and clear. TFS!

Hi Catalin, splendid portrait with great pose, wonderful colors and excellent sharpness, very well done, ciao Silvio

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2007-05-01 1:03]

Fantastic POV, Catalin.
Great eye contact, sharp focus.
Beautiful colors and markings.
An awesome raptor.
TFS. ; )

Nice image of a beautiful bird.

Hello Catalin , perfect portrait of this smallest Falcon species for Europa , very sharp and detailed raptor photo , TFS.

HI Catlain,
Tye exposure and details are good.
Nice colour and the pattern on the plumage are really nice.
I like the POV but I'm not sure about the compostion,
either a portrait, less of the body or more of the bird,
but thats me.
Well done.

Impresionant, couleurs magnifiques.

  • thistle Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1309 W: 74 N: 3014] (9282)
  • [2007-05-14 7:06]

Hello Catalin,
It's a lovely shot. What I really like about it is the space around birds head. Very often such picture are framed too tight and it's nice to see something different.
The POV and composition really work, the details are nice and clear and the colours really pleasant to the eye.

Hi Catalin,
bela foto!!! parabéns

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