Falco Columbarius  is stocky, small and dashing falcon. Male has upperparts dark or pale bluish, underparts from dark and heavily streaked to pale buff and lightly streaked, usually conspicuous pale bands in tail. Female browner, without blue tones, plumage generally more uniform, less contrasted than in male. Juvenile similar to female. Races differ in overall plumage tone, suckleyi darkest, pallidus palest, also small difference in size.

Merlin inhabits moors and fens at high altitude in northern Eurasia and North America. In the British Isles it has a definite preference for heather (Erica) and bracken (Pteridium aquilinum). Its European populations are wintering throughout the continent and reach northern Africa. The breeding population of the European Union (12 Member States), entirely restricted to the British Isles, has undergone a strong decline between 1950 and 1960 following the widespread use of organochlorine pesticides in its winter quarters. Since 1980 it is increasing again, but its future is largely dependent on the management of its habitat for Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus)

Merlins typically nest in boreal forest, preferrably near bogs or open water. Lake shores and islands are used most frequently with fewer inland nest reports. These open to semi-open areas are chosen probably to facilitate hunting. Merlins are likely limited by adequate food items and a source of available nesting sites. The food base is normally provided by small to medium-sized birds of grasslands, wetlands, or forest edges. Merlins do not build there own nests but use those of other birds, most commonly those of corvids (crows, ravens). Rarely they nest in tree cavities, on cliffs, or on the ground. Lake shorelines and other open areas are used as hunting grounds, although merlins will also commonly hunt within the forest.

Merlins begin breeding at two years of age and use old nests of other species, such as ravens, crows, or hawks, in which they lay a clutch of 4-5 eggs. The female does most of the incubation during the 28-32 day period and is fed by the male. The young fledge 25-30 days after hatching and are dependent upon the adults for another 4-5 weeks. Merlins are almost entirely diurnal hunters but occasionally they will hunt at dusk when bats are taken. Food caching has been recorded both during the breeding season as well as on the wintering grounds. Fledglings sometimes at play will half-heartedly chase potential prey species. The young remain together after fledging and may migrate south together.

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