One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small dark falcon that hunts small birds, found throughout most of Eurasia and North America.
Falco columbarius, family Falconidae
- ‘Stop along the coast in Assateague and view innumerable migratory species, including peregrine falcons, merlins, and enormous flocks of tree swallows continuing their flight south.’
- ‘The moorland blaze has come at a bad time for ground-nesting birds such as golden plovers, curlews, lapwings and merlins, a rare bird of prey.’
- ‘A pair of kestrels kept the grouse quiet but I didn't see any merlins though perhaps heard the plaintive cry of the other fashionable bird hereabouts, namely the golden plover.’
- ‘Talin, merlin, and philopodin are other major members of the FERM superfamily.’
- ‘A peregrine falcon and a merlin swoop overhead, and the canyon soon curves to the left.’
- ‘Scurrying about in the woodland fringes, hedges and feeding sites are finches, tits and thrushes keep your eyes open for the occasional hen harrier, merlin and sparrowhawk.’
- ‘Other wintering species include little egret, spoonbill, hen harrier, merlin, peregrine, green sandpiper and common sandpiper.’
- ‘The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says that nests of species such as short-eared owls, merlins, red grouse, meadow pipits, skylarks, twite and curlews will have been wiped out.’
- ‘As well as grouse watching, Dan and his colleagues also give informal tours around the reserve for young ornithologists keen to spot merlins, buzzards and ospreys.’
- ‘The heather provides safe havens for ground nesting birds like curlew, lapwing, merlin, golden plover and the black grouse and the Moorland Association wants walkers to help keep the moors special.’
- ‘Collision-risk estimates suggest a similar death toll for merlin, a species of falcon, and the loss of between 200 and 250 red-throated divers.’
- ‘Fish's organization provides charts to help bird-watchers predict the best viewing time for various raptor species, from the golden eagle to the merlin.’
- ‘Usually early migrants, the first ouzel's song echoes round the hills and the first birds fall prey to merlins and peregrines.’
- ‘Fall, of course, is the best time to see migrants: peregrine falcons, merlins, and flocks of tree swallows at Assateague; northern gannets just offshore; and plenty of Canadian and snow geese soaring above.’
- ‘Boasting buzzards, merlins, kestrels, peregrines, and ospreys, the county has ten of a total UK species of 15-making it one of the nation's key habitats.’
- ‘Birds such as grouse, crows, quail, partridge, nightjars, cuckoos, shrikes, larks, pipits, merlins, harriers, kestrels and buzzards would all have been seen.’
- ‘They include pine marten, wildcat, stoat and weasel as well as golden eagles, merlin, peregrine falcon, golden plover and in time black grouse and capercaillie.’
- ‘Moorland ground nesting birds, such as curlew, lapwing, merlin and golden plover, are vulnerable to disturbance from humans and dogs, as well as predators, such as crows and foxes.’
- ‘He heard the cry of a merlin and the beating of its wings as it flew over his head.’
- ‘Maybe even merlin banding or who knows something to bring the exciting part of birding to the web.’
Late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French merilun, from Old French esmerillon, augmentative of esmeril, of Germanic origin; related to German Schmerl.
(in Arthurian legend) a magician who aided and supported King Arthur.
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