"Better To Wait For Breakfast, Than To Become Breakfast"
I love to watch the birds that come to my yard in search of food. The little I pay for bird seed could never pay for the joy I feel inside. The mess it leaves of spent hulls (empty seeds) is worth every minute of work it takes to clean up. When I have a blue day, a flash of color, a burst of song, or the flutter of wings just seems to bring out the sunshine.
One Saturday, about 7:15 a.m. we filled our bird feeder and sat back waiting for the fun to begin. Silence! Was it too early? We kept busy doing our morning jobs, looking every now and then in the direction of the feeder to see if there was any action. It was 8:00 a.m. and still no visitors. Finally, at 8:15, I said to my honey, "Something's up!"
"Something's up indeed" he replied. "Come quick and look at the tree in our neighbor's yard. Someone's out there, waiting for lunch to be served."
My honey was right. There was a Merlin, sitting in our neighbor's tree, waiting for some unsuspecting bird to fly out of cover and become his breakfast. The question was, who could wait the longest, bird or raptor? All was silent. Nothing moved. At about 8:20 a.m. the Merlin finally gave up and left the area. No sooner was he out of sight than the yard was full of the hungry birds who had to wait for breakfast. But, better to wait for breakfast, than to become breakfast.
Merlin sightings are special in southern Utah. Merlins rely on speed and agility to hunt their prey. In medieval Europe, Merlins were popular in falconry. Merlins will readily take prey flushed by other birds, and have been seen in mid air tagging along Sharp-shinned Hawks, to catch any birds that escape the hawk's attack. They often hunt by flying fast and low and use the cover of trees and large shrubs to take prey by surprise. This bird is also called a "pigeon hawk".
Mary Feezer is the artist of the Merlin. We thank her for sharing her talent with us. For questions about birds, field trips, meetings, or bird counts, visit our home page or call Marilyn Davis at 435 673-0996.
- Red Cliffs Audubon