The Merlin


The Merlin Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: Snowfinch Publishing
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Pages: 352 Illustrations and other contents: colour & b/w photos, colour & b/w illustration, colour maps, tables Language: English ISBN: 9780957173224 Categories: ,

The Merlin is a very special bird. One of the smallest ‘True Falcons’, it stands outside the usually assumed grouping of the others, and also prefers a habitat which differs markedly from them. While most falcons are found in warmer climes, the Merlin is a northern dweller, occupying a circumpolar range at the fringes of the Arctic. Only the Gyrfalcon has a range which extends further north, though sub-species of that remarkable traveller the Peregrine Falcon also breed in the Arctic. With its fast, agile flight the Merlin was popular with medieval falconers who thrilled at its ‘ringing’ flight in pursuit of larks.

Today, changes in legislation mean the species is much less often seen as a falconry bird. It might be assumed that with its vast range the Merlin has been well studied, but nowhere is it common, and much of its habitat is difficult to reach and work in, though the falcon’s recent enthusiasm for urban-dwelling in North America has made it more accessible and its biology and ecology have become better understood. This book draws together what is currently known about this elusive, but beautiful and enchanting species.

Weight0.5 kg




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Author Biography

Richard Sale is a physicist with a PhD in astrophysics, who now devotes his time to studying Arctic ecology and the flight dynamics of falcons. He has studied Merlins across the species’ range. With Eugene Potapov he co-authored The Gyrfalcon monograph which won the US Wildlife Society Book of the Year in 2006. More recently he co-authored Steller’s Sea Eagle with Vladimir Masterov and Michael Romanov which won the US Wildlife Society Book of the Year in 2019. His other books include the first field guide to birds and mammals of the Arctic, The Snowy Owl (again with Eugene Potapov), The Arctic: The Complete Story (recently republished as The Arctic, with photographs by himself and Norwegian photographer Per Michelsen), and the New Naturalist title Falcons.