Female Merlin?

Hi I was wondering if anyone can identify. I thinks its a female Merlin.  Has started visiting the garden the last week or so. Stops by the bird feeder and flies off. Yesterday it stopped as normal then dived into a bush and dragged out a small bird. Plucked a few feathers off said small bird. It then flew off low across field carrying its prey.



  • Hi JK
    It is a Sparrowhawk (possibly juvenile male?) I'm afraid not a Merlin

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  • In reply to Alan.:

    Hi Alan

    Thanks for reply. I think what threw me was the size, seemed a bit bigger than SH but I think you are right. The barring on tail gives it away.
  • If you've seen Sparrowhawks before and this one looked larger than it was a female, they are bigger than a male.

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  • Oh and once it has found your feeders it will be back...

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  • In reply to JKemp71:

    If it looked larger than a sparrowhawk that would rule Merlin out as Merlin is our smallest bird of prey more Thrush sized


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • At least two individuals. First one is a female IMO. Second and third is a male.
  • I'm glad you've come back to this, Pete and Robbo.

    I've only knowingly seen one Merlin---bouncing in deceptively to try to take an exposed warbler from a reed. A very memorable, close-up sighting. And it's true they're very small. I wondered if JK was thinking of something else.

    And I'd wondered if the photos were'nt of two separate birds, based on colour alone.

    Robbo, if you don't mind, what's your male and female ID based on?

    Best regards -
  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Dave - CH said:

    Robbo, if you don't mind, what's your male and female ID based on?

    Overall impression primarily.

    Re second and third photos being a male, based on seemingly fragile, small talons, overall colour (which as has been mentioned looks like a relatively youngish individual with hints of brown near head and youngish yellow eyes), seemingly fragmented, fine supercilium, small prey species (incl compared to small predator).

    Top bird by comparison has full on supercilium, looks something not to be messed with, seemingly large bill, bulky compared to fence post and background feeders.

    Photos might be misleading to some extent, but they are clearly different individuals and just comparing one with the other is probably conclusive enough in terms of apparent proportion difference.

  • In reply to Robbo:

    Thank you Robbo.

    The top bird does, indeed, look chunky. Before I even read JK's original post it said 'buzzard' to me (although clearly not one), if you see what I mean.

    Best regards -