Black Merlin (Falco columbarius suckleyi), Nogales, Santa Cruz County
Black Merlin was found and photographed by Bill Lisowsky on 15 December 2018
This subspecies regularly occurs in the Pacific Northwest, it is locally regular south of there along the coast and in the Interior West as well as scattered reports elsewhere in the west. In Arizona in recent years there appear to be two previously photographed birds as well as several claimed sight reports. Older literature mentions a possible specimen (Monson and Phillips 1981) but this appears to be a specimen of the nominate subspecies.
Identification of Merlin subspecies is tricky and the
extent to which they are field identifiable is debated.
Recent published work has expressed doubt as to how
field identifiable they are (see
Western Birds Vol 31-1 and
Western Birds Vol 44-4). On the other hand, guides on
raptors suggest they are. This bird is black overall; it
shows very little supercilium, the dark tail looks to be unbarred
with only small pale spots, and it shows a dark face and back.
The apparent brownish streaks on the crown suggest it is
15 December 2018, photo by Bill LisowskyAll photos are copyrighted© by photographer
Submitted on 16 December 2018