Sunday, May 12, 2013

Merlin Pair - Hamilton Mountain

A few weeks ago we had a couple from church over for a Sunday evening visit.  In conversation it came up that there was a Merlin pair and nest in a big Spruce tree just down the road from them.  A couple days later, I made my way up the "mountain" to see if I could find the nest and the birds.

Knowing the birds were most likely to nest in a big coniferous tree of some kind, the first big Spruce tree in the area was the first clue and turned out to be the one.  Although not easily visible, there's a nest in the top of the tree.

female Merlin

 At first I only saw the one Merlin, and it was in a big silver maple tree that was in full flower.  But the tree was in the middle of all the backyards, and not possible to get any closer to.

female Merlin calling

female Merlin wing stretch

European Starling buzzing female Merlin

The nest tree is located here in the large spruce tree in front of the house on the NW corner of Howe Ave & E 17 Street.  If you go to see it, please be respectful of both the homeowners (I try to knock on the door first before standing in front of someone's house with a camera!) and the birds themselves.  Merlin don't usually nest till May or June, so this pair is either returning to an old nest, or got an early start.

Merlin nest tree

As I was standing by the tree, the female landed and eyed me for a while.  I was surprised how close she let me stand without either taking off, or protesting at me.

female Merlin in nest tree

When she did take off, I followed her flight to where she joined her mate in some taller trees in other backyards.  The home owner was outside there and graciously welcomed me down her driveway to get a closer view.

the Merlin pair (male top, female bottom)

Notice the size difference... this is typical for most raptors and owls in that the female is often about a third larger than the male.

the male Merlin flies in
Female Merlin trying to catch the male's eye.

female Merlin

female Merlin all plumped up for preening

I aim to return there later when, hopefully, there are some young ones flying about.
A big thanks to Doug and Vanessa for letting me know they were there!

Keep enjoying His handiwork!


  1. I live on Hamilton Mountain near Upper James and Mohawk. I just recently heard about the nesting pair on Howe street. I have many really good pics, some of 4 merlins together that seemed to be living in a large tree across the street from my house. They hung around for the better part of a month and were almost always in the same spot. I know that a couple of them were very young by the fluffiness of thier feathers. You could hear them long before you saw them and they were around almost all day long. Sometimes flying around and sometimes just sitting in the top of the tree. I recently was away for 10 days and when I came back I wondered if I'd see them again and sure enough 1 of them came back to thier old hunting ground. It was truley amazing. Photography is a hobby for me, especially photographing birds around the Hamilton Mountain. I tried to email you but your address came back invalid.

    1. Glad you found my post. I'm jealous if you living that close... I never made it back again. Feel free to email me... you have to take the spaces out before and after the "@". :)
      Do you post or share your pictures anywhere? I'd love to enjoy seeing them.
      Best regards,

    2. I havent but I could email you a few if I can get your address right. Let me give it another try!


Sorry about the annoying word verification... I've been deluged with Spam comments lately and some have been offensive.