[CT Birds] ID Help: Merlin or Sharpie/Coopers?

Steve Mayo and Rebecca Horowitz rsdmayo at sbcglobal.net
Sun Mar 24 21:11:47 EDT 2013

Hi Mike,

The best feature of this photo is that it shows that classic falcon facial pattern.  Small falcons (Kestrels in particular, but Merlins too) have markings on the sides of the head that are intended imitate facial patterns that would confuse larger raptors and potential predators.  There are other field marks (blocky parrot head, very pointy folded primaries,lack of spots on the coverts/mantle), but that facial pattern is diagnostic of Merlin.    

Another interesting behavioral hint:  Photo was taken at Sherwood Island.  You may find a woodland-loving accipiter near the beach, or over the beach in migration, but rarely ON the beach. A Merlin perched in the muck may be almost as rare.  Nice catch!

Steve Mayo

 From: Michael Richardson <msr042377 at gmail.com>
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org 
Sent: Sunday, March 24, 2013 8:06 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] ID Help: Merlin or Sharpie/Coopers?

Looking for some ID help on this raptor at Sherwood Island.  My first
thought was that it's a sharpie or coopers, but now thinking maybe merlin.
Any thoughts?  Photo take at Sherwood Island, Westport, 3/3/12



Michael Richardson

Norwalk, CT

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