Research

The Coastal Forest Merlin (Falco columbarius suckleyi) is a falcon evolved to living in the Temperate Rain Forest of our Northwest environment. Very little is known about its life history, survival requirements and population status. Here then, one sees an opportunity to contribute to the collective understanding of an uncommon forest raptor.

What we do: “Investigate the life history of our Northwest Merlin and educate by involving people in their conservation stewardship.”

We began this pioneering study in the autumn of 1983, to gain insights on migration patterns and wintering behavioral ecology. In 1988, recognizing Merlin as the rarest breeding falcon in Washington state we began an in-depth study of their reproductive cycle, habitat and prey utilization. To date, their breeding biology and behavioral ecology remains a core element of our fieldwork. Elucidation of other key factors to Merlins’ survival are high priorities of this project and include: regional breeding distribution, contaminant presence and phylogentic relationships, to name a few. In 1998 we expanded our study to include fieldwork in British Columbia, where Merlin is equally poorly known. A careful review of the published literature (see Birds of North America, #44 Sodhi et al, Philadelphia: Academy of Sciences and bird field guides) will show you how little is known about this subspecies in North America).

This long-term (33rd year), comprehensive research has led the principal investigator to eight countries, 30 museum repositories and collaboration with the world’s foremost merlinologists. Team Merlin is comprised of dedicated and motivated volunteers from diverse professions. Our quest to know Merlin continues…

Our research would not be possible without people like you getting involved! We network extensively around the region to collate our collective awareness of Merlins in the Northwest. People of all interests call or email us valuable sightings, photos and illustrations to help build our regional understanding of this uncommon forest falcon. This is your study, together we will provide the scientific information to the responsible stewardship organizations and agencies to integrate this little known raptor’s survival needs with those of people and the dynamic riparian/upland wildlife community we share!