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Here Come the Merlins

Ranging farther south

Smaller than a pigeon — but fierce enough to knock one from the air — are the powerful, compact falcons known as Merlins. Climate change is pushing ranges of many birds farther north, but more and more Merlins have been nesting farther south, in towns and cities across the northern United States. Merlins will take over old crow nests, especially in conifer trees, in parks, cemeteries, and neighborhoods. 

Support for BirdNote comes from Bloomsbury - a publisher of natural history books and birding guides. “Critical Critters” by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy is available now.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Here Come the Merlins

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
[Merlin calling, https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/197047, 0.19-.22]
Want to see one of the blazing thunderbolts of the bird world? Smaller than a pigeon — but fierce enough to knock one from the air — are the powerful, compact falcons known as Merlins.
While global climate change is pushing ranges of many birds farther north, Merlins are actually expanding southward**.
Merlins nest in northern forests  around the world. But in recent years, more and more Merlins have been nesting farther south, in towns and cities across the northern United States. These small falcons will take over old crow nests, especially in conifer trees — in parks, cemeteries, and neighborhoods. 
[Merlin calling, https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/197047, 0.19-.22]
No one knows precisely why, but part of the answer may lie in a rebound of Merlin populations since the banning of pesticides like DDT. And it’s a reminder that bird behavior may be more flexible than we sometimes imagine.
[Merlin call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/105837, 0.15-.17]
Merlins reach their peak southward migration in October. Although some, like those in the Pacific Northwest, remain year round, most scatter to the south for winter. Some travel as far as Ecuador.
With any luck, you might see these adaptable, pint-sized thunderbolts in your neighborhood.
[Merlin call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/105837, 0.15-.17]
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Support for BirdNote comes from Bloomsbury, a publisher of natural history books and birding guides. Critical Critters by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy is available now.
                                                                               ###
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by Bob McGuire and Geoffrey A Keller.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

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