by Bryce W. Robinson
The Merlin is an extremely interesting falcon. Three distinct subspecies split the Merlin; the Taiga, the Black or Pacific, and the Prairie. Each subspecies exhibits a particular plumage type, a fact that undoubtedly adds to my obsession with the bird. Most commonly seen is the Taiga. The males are a beautiful slate blue, with orange hues on the breast. The female is a paler version of the male, with brown tones replacing the blue, and lacking the orange hue. I have had many encounters with the Taiga this winter, and I am sure there will be more before the seasons end. I have also had a few opportunities this year to see the Prairie Merlin. The Prairie is a very pale version of the Taiga, easily distinguishable. The final subspecies is the Black Merlin. True to its name, the Black is a dark Merlin. Captivating for the onlooker I am sure, but alas, I have never personally seen a Black Merlin. I am sure that with diligent effort that fact will change. For whatever reason the Merlin is a favorite of mine, and I find every encounter a blessing. I look forward to meeting the bird time and time again, photographing, watching, and painting the bird thousands of times over.