Merlins at the Woodstock History Center

If you have recently visited the back lawn of the Woodstock History Center, you might have noticed all the wildlife. In addition to a plethora of native plants and flowers along the river, there have been sightings of geese, an otter, and a family of merlins.

While most people are likely familiar with geese and otters, merlins —which are a type of falcon — are less well known in this area. The scientific name for merlins is “Falco columbarius,” although many more people know them by their colloquial name “pigeon hawk.” As the name suggests, merlins often prey on other birds, which they catch “on the wing” using a sudden burst of speed rather than diving like peregrine falcons. In addition to small birds, they eat large insects and rodents.

Merlins often nest near forests or along rivers; however, in recent years, they’ve also begun to nest in towns and cities. If you’d like to see a family of merlins, come to the Woodstock History Center’s back lawn, located at 26 Elm Street, and listen for a distinctive shrill bird call. The tree where the merlins’ nest is located is adjacent to the parking lot.

 

 

Image of juvenile merlin (Falco columbarius) provided courtesy of:  D. Gordon E.Robertson .  Note: This file is licensed under the  Creative Commons   Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported  license.

Image of juvenile merlin (Falco columbarius) provided courtesy of: D. Gordon E.Robertson.

Note: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Matthew Powers