Two Mockingbirds and a Merlin (female) at Amber Ridge in the Morning

This morning, I was walking around Amber Ridge when I heard raucous bird calls. As I drew closer to the source of the sound, I saw that it was being made by two mockingbirds. They were squawking and flying up in the air and then back into their tall, green tree. I drew close to the tree, to find out what was irritating them, and saw a placid Merlin (female) perched on a high branch whom they were trying to scare off. The Merlin’s banded tail and distinct, brown chest streaking, facial patterning, and size (11-12″ apx) and wingspan (shorter than a larger hawk) made the ID.

June seems late for a nesting pair of mockingbirds, and the Merlin (Merlin columbarius) is supposedly here in SoCal mainly between mid-October and March. Yet here was this drama unfolding at the top of the tree:  plain as day. Although the mockingbirds were not initially successful, my interest in the Merlin, demonstrated by a curious stare as I drew closer, prompted the small raptor to take flight … and the two mockingbirds chased it across the sky!

 

loud, shrill mockingbirds

defending a tall, green tree

the Merlin takes flight!

jb

Screen Shot 2019-06-15 at 7.24.03 PM

Male and Female Merlin

p.s. The drama was re-enacted again this morning, Sunday, 7/16/2019. This time, when the mockingbirds chased off the Merlin, she let out an almost four-second long series of 10-12 sharp chips as she flew. Her banded tail spread was spread out in flight and clearly visible. A striking combination of sight and sound! So the ID of the Merlin was confirmed again today.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Barb Holthuis on June 16, 2019 at 8:04 am

    I like your Haiku!

    Reply

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