Friday, April 02, 2021

Friday Ramble - Merlin's Song

Through the open window came a familiar high pitched song, a springtime cantrip of staccato cadence, kee-kee-kee-kee-kee. The song was cheerful, but our feelings on hearing it were ambivalent. Down went books and cups of tea, up came the camera, and out to the garden we went, Beau and I.  

A young male merlin (Falco columbarius) was perched in a tree in the corner of the garden and was announcing his fierce and lusty presence to the world at the top of his lungs.  A merlin's song in springtime carries for some distance, and within a few minutes a second male arrived on the scene.  There was a brief frantic tussle and the interloper flew off toward the river with dejection in every plume and pinion.

Once called "pigeon hawks", the little falcons are fast moving, agile and deadly predators and fearless - they don't think twice about attacking anything that moves.  Somewhat elusive, they have never been numerous here, but a few pairs nest in a nearby wooded area, and we suspect our visitor was a member of that community.

Several years ago, plans to turn part of a local park into a traffic circle were derailed when a small colony of nesting merlins was discovered in it, and the birds have been nesting there ever since. The decision to leave the park and its residents alone was one of those rare occasions when Mother Nature wins a round, and we were absolutely jubilant when it was announced.

The sighting was a wonderful thing, but we hope our falcon moves on and stays away from the garden for several weeks.  Cardinals, chickadees and house finches are nesting in our hedgerows, and the dear little falcons, as much as we admire them, are not particularly welcome at this time of the year.  Their continued presence does not bode well for our diligently parenting songbirds.

Why is it that I can never remember the names of television programs, movies and popular celebrities but always remember the names of plants, animals, insects and birds? Even long obscure Latin names linger in this dusty old sconce.


Mystic Meandering said...

How wondrous a sight! We have Cooper Hawks that hang out here in the trees watching for movement of possible prey on the ground... The Crows don't like them - at all! One day we heard all this cawing and looked up to see the Hawk being bombarded by 3 Crows. He/She eventually flew off, accompanied by the 3 Crows. You never know what "magic" is going on overhead :)

Guy said...

We used to have Merlins nesting in the crescent behind our house but I suspect they left when on e of the big spruce was cut down. There are still lots of spruce we have four giant one we keep despite the wishes of a pushy neighbour but we have not seen a Merlin in the neighbourhood for years.

All the best