Merlin Identification

The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Merlins are small falcons with a powerful build that is broader and stockier than the slightly smaller American Kestrel. Merlins have sharply pointed wings, a broad chest, and a medium length tail.

    Relative Size

    Slightly larger than an American Kestrel; less bulky than a Rock Pigeon.

    Relative Sizebetween robin and crowbetween robin and crow
    Measurements
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 9.4-11.8 in (24-30 cm)
      • Weight: 5.6-8.5 oz (160-240 g)
      • Wingspan: 20.9-26.8 in (53-68 cm)

Regional Differences

There are three subspecies of Merlins in North America: dark-plumaged “black” Merlins of the Pacific Northwest, pale “prairie” Merlins of northern prairies and aspen parklands, and “boreal” or “taiga” Merlins of northern forests, which have intermediate plumage. Six more subspecies live in Eurasia.