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Last week I got to see a Merlin family actively hunting dragonflies around a small lake. There were at least three birds and some, most likely the youngsters, were very vocal. That made them easy to spot. When I was there earlier in the summer, I thought there might be a nest in the area. I mostly photographed them from my boat near dusk and in the early morning as they perched on snags waiting for the unsuspecting dragonflies. It made for challenging conditions.

My Sibley field guide says this about Merlins: “Uncommon in open habitats. Nests in trees in forests with open areas. Solitary. Pugnacious; often harasses much larger birds. An active and energetic hunter; spots prey from perch or during low fast flight, closes with incredible speed, and attacks with abrupt turns, often from below. Feeds almost entirely on small birds; also takes dragonflies in midair.” It’s a pretty good description of the birds I observed.

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