What do merlins eat?
The Merlin need to eat around 35-50g of food a day. The majority of caught prey weighs between 10-40g. When on the search for food the Merlin changes its flying pattern to confuse the prey and allow it to nearer to its prey before it is recognized as a threat. The Merlin’s regular flying is close to the ground, so they are not easily seen. Their normal flight speed is around 30mph. The Merlin changes its flight style from calculated and precise to rapid movement of the wings that is similar to a Mistle Thrush when hunting. Once the bird has spotted its prey, the Merlin is nimble and athletic, being able to make a rapid twist and turns that mimic the moves of the on the moving prey. It can also be known to catch its prey by vertical stoop. The Merlin mainly feeds on small birds, mammals and insects such as dragonflies. The prey often depends on Merlin’s habitat. In the UK meadow, pipit and Skylarks are a large part of Merlin’s diet. Whereas in Canada it preys on house sparrows. The Merlin, if mated, can use its partner to work together to hunt for food, with prey being caught either mid-air on the ground, then removed of its feathers before being carried to the nest.