Basic Information:

Scientific Name: Falco columbarius

Habitat: Merlin hawks can be found in open forests, grasslands, and coastal areas of the northern hemisphere. 

Diet: Merlin hawks are a predatory species and mostly prey on small birds and mice, but have been observed catching dragonflies and other insects.

Size: 0.8 to 1.1 feet high / 1.5 to 2.2 foot wingspan

Weight: 0.4 to 0.5 pounds

Lifespan: 6 to 8 years in the wild. Up to 10 years in human care.

Distribution Map:

I.U.C.N. Conservation Status:

What does this mean?

Least Concern – a species determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) to be pervasive, abundant, and thriving.

Our Merlin:

Tyrion (Male) – Estimated Date of Birth Between March 2013 & July 2013

About Merlins:

Despite their name, Merlins are not related to the Arthurian legend of the wizard Merlin. The word Merlin is derived from the old Anglo word for this common species of falcon: merilun or meriliun. These birds of prey are found all over the Northern Hemisphere where they primarily hunt other birds and are one of the most adept aerial predators out there. While they are mostly known for flying low to the ground or shooting off of perches for surprise attacks, they are also capable of startling prey into the air to then chase down through spectacular maneuvers and aerial dives. This effectiveness makes these falcons one of the most popular falconry birds out there. In fact, a particularly effective Merlin is capable of hunting and securing pigeons and even small ducks!      

Did You Know?!

  • Merlins surprise attack small birds mid-air by sneaking in horizontally and catching prey in a high speed chase.
  • Typically, Merlins fly at about 30 mph, but high speed chases can exceed 50 mph.
  • Merlins were nicknamed “lady hawks” by Medieval falconers. Catherine the Great and Mary Queen of Scots both used Merlins to hunt skylarks, a small bird species native to Europe and Asia.
  • Merlins and American kestrels can be easily confused in the wild. Merlins lack a facial “mustache” stripe that is characteristic of Kestrels.
  • Merlins have hooked beaks, razor sharp talons, and excellent vision and hearing, all of which help them to capture prey animals.

The Utica Zoo will be closed at 1:00pm on 8/3 for BREWFEST and will reopen with normal hours on 8/4!