OK, I’ll admit winter wasn’t bad until February hit and made the whole thing an ordeal.  By February we are ready to be done with winter, and that’s a bad time to have weeks-long record cold and snowstorm after snowstorm.

I was out at a local reservoir & dam to look for a rare species of gull.  I didn’t find it, but I found some bids that looked like they were ready for spring as well.

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Here’s my yearly February Robin that likes having raisins tossed to him as he sets up very early territory waiting for the ladies to return.

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Meanwhile, out at Griggs Dam-

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These were the coldest Great Blue Herons I’ve seen…

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Ducks and geese are trying to sleep this month off.

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Most interesting bird of the afternoon- an immature Bald Eagle flew over.

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Another day last month had me looking through  Union Cemetery in Columbus for a bird wintering over.

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After looking around for 45 minutes, I spotted a bird up in a tree…

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The bird was trimming its feathers.

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Surely enough, this was the bird I was looking for- a Merlin.  It let me get fairly close, but I didn’t push my luck any farther.

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Merlins are small falcons that fly with rapid wingbeats and often spend time surveying for prey from trees.  Their primary food is small birds.  They look somewhat like American Kestrels, particularly in their small size, but Merlins have streaked breasts.  Their name comes from the French ‘Pigeon Hawk’; in the Middle Ages these falcons were called Lady Hawks and were used in falconry, hunting from noblewomen’s wrists.

One interesting fact about Merlins is that they use old bird’s nests instead of building their own- typically crow’s nests or other hawk’s nests.

Last year, a Merlin was seen right here in Union Cemetery over the winter, so my guess is that this was the same bird again, or possibly offspring from last year.   It’s good to see this species becoming a regular sight in the area.