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Friday, August 6, 2010

Merlins Sighted at Echo Lake and Pinehurst

This season, rare visitors to the Seattle area were sighted at Echo Lake in Shoreline and the Pinehurst Neighborhood in North Seattle.  Merlins have been documented in both areas this year, and it is considered an exciting and rare urban wildlife sighting here by the birding community.

Merlins are raptors, a type of small falcon which utilize tall trees for their nesting and habitat.

Here are some photos from local birder, Barbara Deihl who has been following the nesting, hatching and fledging of a family of Merlins in her Pinehurst yard.

Thank you to Barbara and all the Merlin fans for this report.

photo credit - Barbara Deihl

Hello Merlin Fans and Interested Bystanders,

As I picked up the plastic garbage can lids that had been used for waterbaths for the Merlins of Pinehurst after the fledgling Merlins showed an interest in water, I finally felt a sense of peace with the nesting season the neighbors and I (and, oh the Merlins, too!) had just gone through.  Four wild 'n' crazy months of excitement, surprise, new observations, new people, new events and hours spent peering through scopes and binoculars and catching various photographic remembrances - it was another very special season, special in ways both similar and dissimilar to the past 2 wonderful Merlin Years.  And suddenly, in early August, the new young Merlins must have mastered their flight and hunting skills enough to heed the pull (and maybe some push as well) to head out on their own, to points unknown.  Maybe you will see one or 2 somewhere this fall or winter...  

The neighborhood is pretty quiet now, with the occasional call between Thor and Spike bringing smiles and raised heads, like yesterday, when a Merlin or 2 were heard in the morning and early and late evening, and seen on 3 deadtop firs other than the "2010 Meeting Place" one on the south end of the nest site block.  The Victory Heights neighbors are noticing that the deadtop on 107th and 17th is again being used, as well as that famous (and ever so dangerous?!!!) Deodar Cedar above Adrian's "Merlin" mailbox!  People are hearing them a couple blocks north, west and east of this year's site, and farther away as well.  Soon they will mostly just be seen and not heard, either perched at the top of a tall conifer or as a dark shadow either flapping furiously or gliding easily overhead.

For some of us, it is time to catch up on things let go during the nesting season, time to sit down and watch Molly and McGee the San Marcos Barn Owls who are on their second clutch and being videoed 24/7 again:
   ( ) They and their past brood as well as Carlos and Donna and Austin Royal, the nest box monitors and photographers, will be featured tomorrow night (Sat. Aug. 7) on the NBC Nightly News at 5:30 p.m. PDT, in case you are interested.

For some audio and photographic reminders of Merlinning 2010, you can check out the Seattle Times photos for July 22, 2010 (see the gallery of Alan Berner's great shots of the "Seattle Black Merlins", Martha Baskin's radio show from the same date  ( or Nancy Rauhauser's  Merlin post on the Pinehurst Blog on July 29 (  And, if you attend the Puget Sound Birdfest in Edmonds on September 11, you may want to (or not!) sign up for my "When Merlins Choose Your Neighborhood" presentation (see ).  

Since the end of the Merlin season seems to coincide with a big time for people to consider big-tree pruning, my and some others' energies are being diverted toward a bit of tree activism, both in our neighborhoods and this Sunday afternoon at a public meeting at the Broadview Public Library from 1:30 - 4:30.  The Merlins aren't the only creatures who need the trees...

In a bit, there will also be a blog post and a picture or two about the Shoreline 5, on Janet Way's blog - these fledglings and parents were a late-season discovery (early July) - their timing was a few days behind the Pinehurst 5.  Some of us were lucky  to get to see them occasionally during a 3-wk. period, before they, too, dispersed away from the home territory.

Here are a few of my final photos from the Pinehurst Merlin site, from the past couple of weeks.  No more updates except for the occasional reporting of something merlin-related of note.

I'm off to find my inner Falco...  :-)

Your faithful NML,

Barb Deihl     8/6/10 


  1. Very exciting, and great photos!

  2. Janet, et al,
    I told Boni B. about a strange (to me) bird I saw on my fence, near the bird feeder and bird bath, a couple weeks ago. She had just seen the Merlins and was excited. After looking at pictures online, I'm sure what was here was one of the Merlins. I live due east from Echo Lake, as the Merlin flies, I guess. I'm watching for more visits.
    Margie King, Shoreline/Ballinger Neighborhood