Merlin: Small falcon with blue-gray upperparts, white to pale brown underparts with dark streaks. Throat, eye-ring, line above eye are white. Dark gray bill, cere is yellow. Tail is brown or black barred with white tips. Pacific race is dark gray. Prairie race is light gray. Taiga race is a mixture.
Range and Habitat
Merlin: Breeds from Alaska east through Mackenzie to Newfoundland and south to Wyoming, Montana, and northeastern Maine. Spends winters mainly in the southern U.S. north along the west coast up to British Columbia and on the east coast to southern New England. Preferred habitats include coniferous forests.
The Merlin has a large range, estimated globally at 10,000,000 square kilometers. Native to the Americas, Europe and Asia, and spotted in parts of Africa this bird prefers forest, shrubland, grassland, and marine ecosystems. The global population of this bird is estimated at 100,000 to 1,000,000 individuals and does not show signs of decline that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. For this reason, the current evaluation status of the Merlin is Least Concern.
In Europe, Merlins will roost communally in winter, often with Hen Harriers. In North America, this is rare, and it is well known for fiercely attacking any birds of prey that it encounters.
In medieval Europe, they were popular in falconry.
In North America it is sometimes called "pigeon hawk", though being a falcon it is not very closely related to true hawks.
A group of merlins has many collective nouns, including a "brace", "leash", and "illusion" of merlins.