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Old 12-10-2018, 09:50 AM
 
Location: The Driftless Area, WI
1,865 posts, read 690,054 times
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….and there goes the neighborhood.


Merlin's are supposed to summer farther north and winter farther south, but for the past 3-4 weeks, we've had a merlin making regular visits to hang around our feeders. Stately, majestic guys looking kinda like the military bomber version of a bluebird- bigger than a mourning dove, smaller than a crow.


Coincidently, visits to our feeders by the usual mob of goldfinches, house finches, juncos and nuthatches, usually present almost continuously all day long, are way down. Now they come in quick, occasional forays of only a few individuals at a time, grab a seed and scoot off to the cover of nearby trees & thickets.


A merlin & lunch from an internet photo. [Sorry--I can't seem to downsize it.] Merlins have a right to work, too, I guess.--
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Old 12-10-2018, 10:20 AM
 
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Good and (blood-curdling) picture. The stray feathers floating down really put the finishing touches on it. Sigh.

We have falcons in Southern MN but most commonly I see red-tailed hawks. A visit from one of these guys will shut down the back yard buffet for quite a while. Sometimes I wonder how a little bird can enjoy its life at all having to be ever watchful of perilous air strikes.
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:30 AM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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I saw one of these guys in action this past summer. We were sitting on the deck and a flock of grackles was eating seed on the grass. All of a sudden I felt something whoosh down over my head (he was probably high up in a tree on the other side of the house) but I saw nothing except a streak. All the birds scattered, and I kept saying, "What was it? What was it?" A minute later we saw it emerge from the bushes with one of the gracks hanging by a wing in its beak and got a good look at it.

The rest of the birds stayed quiet and hidden for a long time after that, and even when they started to come out again, you could tell they were behaving warily.

It's a side effect of putting out seed for birds and other critters--it also creates a feeding ground for their predators.
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:51 AM
 
Location: S.W. British Columbia
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They are fearless little fellows and I think the ones around here have become accustomed to being around people and have developed a curiosity about human activities. A couple of days ago I was walking past a nearby children's day-care center and I spotted a merlin perched on top of the chain link fence surrounding the center's play ground. The merlin was intently watching the children playing. I walked by and couldn't have been more than 10 feet away from the bird, and although it turned its head to follow my progress in passing it never gave any sign of alarm or readiness to fly away at my approach. After I had passed on by it continued to watch the children at play.

The high rise building that I live in is one of the tallest structures in my community and there are often birds of prey will come perch on the guard-rails around the topmost deck to peer down at the trees and gardens below to spot prey. They have a perfect unimpeded view for miles around from up there. I also have container gardens up on that deck and often when I'm working with the plants up there I've sometimes seen a merlin sitting on the guard-rail watching me or other residents sunning themselves on the deck. The merlins do seem curious about humans but won't let anyone get too close. I really MUST remember to take my camera up there with me, I keep on forgetting.

.
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Old Today, 07:36 AM
 
Location: Germany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
It's a side effect of putting out seed for birds and other critters--it also creates a feeding ground for their predators.
Our feeding places are not in the open, they are in trees or near small trees, so our small birds are in or near cover. Our birds are not often attacked by predators (apart from cats). The fallen food does attract mice though, which attracts the Tawny Owls, and in Autumn, Buzzards.

I have only seen a Sparrow hawk visit the garden once (although they fly over often), and we have had a Buzzard hunting like a Sparrow hawk once in the garden. But the feeders attract the different crows, so it is difficult for the raptors to hunt well in our garden. The small birds appear to be in more danger from the Magpies, which sometimes try to attack like the Sparrow hawks.

Is your feeder a table in open ground? I find they attract bird predators more than food hung in trees.
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Old Today, 11:01 AM
 
Location: Maine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Diogenes View Post
Our feeding places are not in the open, they are in trees or near small trees, so our small birds are in or near cover. Our birds are not often attacked by predators (apart from cats). The fallen food does attract mice though, which attracts the Tawny Owls, and in Autumn, Buzzards.
The merlin we had in 2017 learned to perch in a tree across the road. He'd follow the birds into the hydrangea tree where I'd hidden the feeder. I had to stop feeding the birds until he migrated.
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