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Merlin Pair at Birdsong

Published September 18, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Merlin, Cooper's Hawk, Black-throated Green Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Black-and-white Warbler, Hooded Warbler

I've been thinking I should tear myself away from my backyard to check out Bird Song for migrating warblers one of these days. I thought my four year-old grandson might enjoy the outing as well, so I asked him out on a "date" to go on a "bird hunt", as he calls it.

When I picked Alex up, I have to say, he sure looked cute with his sweatshirt, big, rubber boots, his backpack packed full of a water bottle, a granola bar, and his favorite stuffed animal, and then those big ol' binoculars that were way too big for him!  Adorable!

I didn't expect to see much - but I hoped for a few warblers. After all, four-year old boys are not the quiet, birding companions we serious birders seek - but this guy was ENJOYABLE!  His dozens of questions and observations made me smile a thousand times on our two hour walk!

We hadn't gone very far when I noticed a large bird ahead at the top of a dead tree.  I told Al to check it out and try to whisper for a minute while I took a photo.  That lasted a total of a second - and Al happily went back to telling me all about his friend Dominic at school and how he made him laugh by banging a bowl on his head.  Hmmmm....  Note to self: remember to speak with Alex about how to pick your friends.

Remarkably, the bird remained...  We slowly got closer.  The bird stayed.  By this time, I knew it was a female Merlin and I was amazed that she tolerated our presence so well.

I got out the hot chocolate I had packed and Alex was happily distracted for a little while.  And to my delight, the bird stayed; she preened, she puffed, she stretched, she looked around.  And all the while, I was grabbing photos of her.

A Cooper's Hawk flew in to a tree relatively close to the Merlin.  I don't know if it noticed the Merlin or if it was just chance, but it quickly decided to fly out a little further into the marsh.

And wouldn't you know it - a Blue Jacket, (a male Merlin) flew in!  The taiga pair (our eastern, darker merlins) exchanged positions on snags a time or two by flying at one another - almost a little dance or skirmish with one another.  What a treat to see!

By then, the Blue Jays and crows were yelling and it was all rather noisy.  I lost track of the male when a woman and her dog came by and talked to us.  I gave her looks at the female Merlin through my binoculars - and after she left, Al was done with his hot chocolate and ready to move on.

As we continued our walk, I was surprised and happy that we were able to find a few warblers:  Black-and-white, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, and Black-throated Green.  Black-capped Chickadees were abundant as were American Goldfinches.

What a surprisingly productive walk with my zealous, four-year old grandson!  Me thinks I'll have to take him out more often!  :)
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Female Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Cooper's Hawk
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Cooper's Hawk
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Black-throated Green Warbler
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Alex: sheer joy and energy!