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Merlin

Falco columbarius (Linnaeus, 1758)

Дербник | Тұрымтай
male

2009-01-08
Karash ridge, foothills of Zailiisky Alatau
© Askar Isabekov

Distribution

Breeds in steppe and forest-steppe zonas of northern Kazakhstan, and also in mountains of east and south-east of Kazakhstan. On migration occurs everywhere, winters in valleys of Irtysh and Syrdarya, in foothills of Altai and Tien Shan. Please see detailed distribution in Kazakhstan in the section Subspecies.

Biology

Merlin is rare breeding migrant. Inhabits the forest-steppes, steppe rivers and lakes with bush or tree vegetation, the mountain mixed and coniferous forests with outskirts in altitudes to 2500-3000 m in Tien Shan. In spring appears in March in southern areas, or in the end of April in northern ones. Migrates singly, the latest birds observed at Chokpak Pass in early May, in Kyzylkum desert one bird shot in May 26. Breeds in separate pairs, at least 750 m, usually several kilometers apart. Nest is built on ground under the bush or grass tussock; from the dry twigs and is lined with grass. The birds of subspecies F.c.pallidus nest in old Crows nests in bushes, trees at 3-6 m above ground. Living in mountains birds of subspecies F.c.lymani nest mostly in the old Crows or Magpies nests, in trees and bushes, often at 10-15 m above the ground. Laying of 2-6 (usually 4-5) eggs is from early May to end of June. Both parents incubate clutch for about one month from the laying of first egg, mostly female incubates, male brings the food. Chicks are born in the end of June – July. Both parents feed nestlings which fledge at age 30 days old, in mid-July – August. The autumn migration begins from August, and continues to end of October. At Chokpak Pass Merlins appears in September, most birds were registered in October until the end of this month.

Subspecies

Falco columbarius aesalon (Tunstall, 1771)

    Description. General colour is dark, size is small. The male’s head, upper mantle and scapulars are bluish-grey, darker than upper tail coverts. Head is with broad black streaks and lack of rusty shade; the forehead is slightly lighter than crown. Under parts pattern formed by the large dark spots on whitish-brownish, less often rusty background. The dark bars on tail feathers are well defined. The female’s upper parts are dark-brown with narrow buffy edges of feathers. Crown is same colour as mantle. Cross pattern on upper parts is faint defined. The dark pattern on under parts is well defined. Male wing length 192-210 (199), female 214-228 (220) mm.
    Distribution. Occurs in Kazakhstan on migration and in winter. Two rings of birds ringed on Chokpak Pass were returned (from Tyumenzevskiy district of Altaisky Krai and Enisseyskiy district on Krasnoyarskiy Krai). In winter observed near Semipalatinsk (19 January 1958), but subspecies of bird is not identified.

Falco columbarius pallidus (Sushkin, 1900)

    Description. The lightest and quite large subspecies. The male’s upper parts are pale-grey with buffy edges of feathers. Head is clay-reddish with narrow dark streaks. Under parts are whitish or pale-buffy with pattern formed by the very narrow streaks. Tail feathers are light grey with lack or very faint defined bars. The female’s upper parts are pale-sandy or clay-reddish with broad buffy bars. Under parts are light with pale-brown narrow streaks pattern. Male wing length 206-214 (210), female 208-233 (223) mm.
    Distribution. Breeds in steppe areas from Ural valley eastward to foothills of Altai, in south to Urkach in Mugodzhary ridge. On migration occurs everywhere. Probably the winter observations on Syrdarya, in Chimkent and Ile valley related to birds of this subspecies.

Falco columbarius lymani (Bangs, 1913)

    Description. The male’s upper parts are pale-grey with clay-yellowish borders on scapulars and upper wing coverts. Head is with yellowish tinge and narrow streaks. Under parts are rusty with narrow and blurred streaks. The female’s upper parts are clay-brown with defined cross pattern. Male wing length 226-242 (231), female 241-252 (250) mm.
    Distribution. Breeds in Tien Shan (including Chulkudysu valley and Talasskiy Alatau ridge), in Dzhungarskiy Alatau and Saur ridges. In Southwest Altai the reliable nesting is not known, but in Central Altai close to Berel village the brood recorded in July 31 2004. Resident, the seasonal migration are apparently only vertical migration. In winter always occurs in foothills of Tien Shan, but subspecies status of these birds is not identified.

Falco columbarius insignis (Clark, 1907)

    Description. Adult males are pale-greyish on upperparts, with whitish forehead; central tail feathers usually only with one terminal dark band; underparts are whitish or rufous with very narrow streaks; whitish bar-pattern on the inner webs of primaries is well developed and often formed the solid space at shaft of feather. Females and juveniles have clay-tinged and more pale background brownish upperpats and pattern on underparts than in aesalon; on mantle they have rufous-brownish pale cross-pattern; the pale bands on tail-feathers are broad and ordered. Larger than aesalon: wing of males 190-208, females 213-232 mm. Length males 285-313, females 325-334 mm. Wingspan males 589-600, females 623-625 mm.
    Distribution. Winters in south from the south border of Kazakhstan from Turkmenistan to Kyrgyzstan (foothills of Central Tien Shan), in Xinjiang, southern Mongolia and western China. Recorded in Almaty vicinity in January of 2013.

References

Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999. В.К.Рябицев. "Птицы Урала, Приуралья и Западной Сибири". Екатеринбург. Изд-во Уральского университета, 2000. Г.П.Дементьев, Н.А.Гладков, Е.С.Птушенко, Е.П.Спангенберг, А.М.Судиловская. "Птицы Советского Союза" Том I. Москва, 1951.

supplement

subspecies

Falco columbarius aesalon
(Tunstall, 1771)
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Falco columbarius pallidus
(Sushkin, 1900)
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Falco columbarius lymani
(Bangs, 1913)
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Falco columbarius insignis
(Clark, 1907)
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