Saturday, April 6, 2019

Rare bird: Black Merlin in Borrego Springs

Slam on the breaks; back up!

There it is. A Merlin. Not only that, it is a Black Merlin Falco columbarius suckleyi. This dark and heavily streaked form of the coastal Pacific Northwest rarely gets this far south. And here in the Anza-Borrego Desert it is also a long ways inland (see subspecies map in National Geographic field guide 7th Edition, Amazon affiliate link to purchase here). It is the rarest of the three forms of Merlin found in San Diego County.

Note that the cheeks are primarily dark, the black breast streaks are broad and extensive, and tail bands are nearly absent.

I spotted this bird in Borrego Springs on my way to the Swainson's Hawk evening hawk watch count site.

Merlin
Merlin
Merlin. Borrego Springs, California. March 17, 2019.

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