“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Yet I Think It’s Magical
I had been seeing this dark bird shape flash overhead for several days, but hadn’t got a good enough look to identify it. Solving the mystery of what bird I’m observing is part of my bird-watching passion.
It was mourning dove size, but it flew nothing like a dove. I thought it flew like a hawk but it was too small for the Cooper’s hawks that have been keeping the apartment complex company all year.
The brief glimpses I had of the bird were tantalizingly frustrating. It would fly overhead past me, and by the time I looked up after seeing its shadow, it had disappeared into the trees.
Finally a few mornings ago, as I sat drinking my cream-laced coffee and watching dawn break, I identified it as a merlin. It whizzed past my third floor balcony at eye level, probably after one of the small song birds that had been flitting around waiting to catch the morning sun, too.
Merlins are not year-round residents of the Tucson area, but they do migrate through and winter here, according to my birding field guide. Since I haven’t seen the merlin in the past couple of days, and since it’s not yet winter, I suspect it was just passing through on its way farther south.
With all the small birds around the complex, it probably decided this was a good place to fuel up. Merlins, according to Cornell University’s ornithological web site, rely on speed and agility to hunt their prey. The merlins often hunt by flying fast and low, using trees and large shrubs to take prey by surprise. While they actually capture most birds in flight, they will also tail-chase a bird to catch it.
. While not a lifer, I’ve only been able to identify this member of the falcon family a few times. But bird experts say the merlin is becoming more numerous in urban areas, so perhaps there are more “magical” merlin sightings in my future.
Bean’s Pat: Ian Butler Photographer http://tinyurl.com/ledqorr Great photo of a dunlin for all you birders out there.