Merlin
(Falco columbarius)

Summary

Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (flickr.com/photos/jukka_jantunen)
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Merlin, a globally distributed species, is common and widespread in open areas of Canada's forests. Over the past 30 years, it has become more common in urban settings (Warkentin et al. 2005). Both the Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count demonstrate a significant increase in the Canadian population of this species since about 1970. Currently, there appear to be few threats to the species. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

Designations

Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Not at Risk1985 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge IncreaseHighAt an Acceptable Level
 

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada1,000,000 - 5,000,000 adults
 

Distribution maps

 

Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaModerate

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between mid-March and late May and ends between late July and mid-August, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.
 

Conservation and management

Populations of Merlin were likely reduced by organochlorine-based pesticides used in the 1950s and 1960s, and the population increases since then may represent a return to previous levels (Warkentin et al. 2005). Threats currently appear to be few, although loss of habitat, specifically destruction of shelterbelts and old farm sites, may cause local population losses or shifts (Warkentin et al. 2005).

 

Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Stewardship
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Other
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Stewardship
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Stewardship
 

References