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2 minutes ago, bo nelson said:

Totally confused on the Taiga thing.  At first I thought it was a new bird species I've never heard of though it looked like a Merlin to me.  I had to come back to this post but still not sure what I'm missing.

It’s a subspecies. 

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48 minutes ago, bo nelson said:

Totally confused on the Taiga thing.  At first I thought it was a new bird species I've never heard of though it looked like a Merlin to me.  I had to come back to this post but still not sure what I'm missing.

There are three subspecies of Merlin that breed in the New World:

1) nominate columbarius, colloquially called Taiga Merlin, as much or most of its breeding range is in taiga -- fairly dark-backed with complete or nearly so white tail bands

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/132910061#_ga=2.111795078.30951479.1599863273-1184313056.1549327880

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/185558461#_ga=2.111795078.30951479.1599863273-1184313056.1549327880

2) richardsonii, Prairie Merlin, primarily breeding on the... wait for it... prairies of north-central US and south-central Canada -- relatively pale-backed with complete white tail bands

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/123086771#_ga=2.38894753.30951479.1599863273-1184313056.1549327880

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/132872311#_ga=2.38894753.30951479.1599863273-1184313056.1549327880

3) suckleyi, Black Merlin, breeding in Pacific NW -- very dark both above and below, with incomplete tail bands, often just a row of a couple spots

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/204456721#_ga=2.177511591.30951479.1599863273-1184313056.1549327880

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/119496371#_ga=2.114416517.30951479.1599863273-1184313056.1549327880

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Thanks all, very interesting stuff especially for a hack who can't even find a Merlin.  I sure seem to find lot of American Kestrels though.  I saw a few of them yesterday at the Salton Sea, this one was very confused why I was stalking him.  

 

AmericanKestrel 24SEP20.jpg

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8 hours ago, bo nelson said:

Thanks all, very interesting stuff especially for a hack who can't even find a Merlin.  I sure seem to find lot of American Kestrels though.  I saw a few of them yesterday at the Salton Sea, this one was very confused why I was stalking him.  

Assuming you're in south / central CA, you're like me in central SC - out of their expected breeding range.  We're both in their wintering range, when they're more widely scattered.  I'm in an area of mixed suburbs and farm  fields, not likely Merlin territory anyway.  I only got this on one on a trip to the appropriate forests in northern Michigan.  Barring other trips, it may be the only one I ever see.

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9 hours ago, bo nelson said:

Thanks all, very interesting stuff especially for a hack who can't even find a Merlin.  I sure seem to find lot of American Kestrels though.  I saw a few of them yesterday at the Salton Sea, this one was very confused why I was stalking him.  

 

AmericanKestrel 24SEP20.jpg

I love the Salton Sea area. One of my favorite places in California. 

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