Date: 12/3/18 9:22 am From: Jared Del Rosso <jared.delrosso...> Subject: [cobirds] Merlin with prey - Arapahoe Co
Two weekends ago (11/24), while birding Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve (Arapahoe), I encountered a Merlin with a fresh catch, a small bird that I believe was a Townsend's Solitaire. More accurately, the Merlin encountered me, flying into my path, about 20 feet or so ahead of me, and perching above me. The Merlin was indifferent to my presence, plucking, eviscerating, and eating the bird in plain view. It didn't even leave its perch when, many minutes later, I passed underneath. (I waited for the Merlin to be long done eating before crossing its path; by the time I left it, it had moved on to cleaning whatever it hadn't swallowed from its talons and beak.) But two robins, boldly encroaching, got it to go.
For once, I had my camera with me and the light wasn't terrible. So I have decent photos of the entire encounter. The eating lasted about 13 minutes, but the bird was on its perch for longer than that. I stopped photographing after about 20 minutes. A few minutes later, it flew across the preserve and out over the High Line Canal.
One photograph included. I'd welcome second opinions on the prey.
[image: DSC_0382 Merlin with Prey.jpg]
It was, for me, a rather remarkable encounter. Once, years ago, I came face-to-face with a Merlin at a feeder during a cold St. Paul, Minnesota CBC. Usually, though, my views are from much farther below or are briefer or are both.