A female Merlin?


I've seen a small bird of prey sitting on my fence and hunting low across the field in front of my house in the Scottish Borders. This is the best photo I could get - most obvious feature was the collection of light coloured splodges on its back.

I've had a look online and in books and I think it's a female Merlin, but I thought I'd put it out to see what the RSPB community thought?


  • Hi AC welcome to the community.
    I don't know if it is a Merlin or not I've never seen one but Juvenile Sparrowhawks have the white feathers on their backs.

    My Flickr photos

  • Hi. Definitely a Sparrowhawk. One feature is that female (and juvenile) Merlins have dark brown tail with narrow pale bands, while this bird has black bands against a paler base colour. Also on a Merlin the wing tips would reach a bit closer to the end of the tail. And, as Alan points out, the white spotting above is characteristic of Sparrowhawks.