SYNOPSIS OF Merlin nesting success in 2017 in the Finger Lakes region and
This summary of Merlin nesting success is only possible because of reports from
others who let me know of the location for nesting behavior they noted first,
and in one case continued to monitor the nest. Thanks so much.
For 2017, 5 of 7 monitored nests fledged young. In the previous 2 years, only 7
of 14 nests fledged young. The sample size remains small, but even the higher
nest success rate this year is much lower than other studies and may not be
high enough to sustain our population without emigration from more successful
areas. I did not have the time (or perhaps energy) to monitor the nests
frequently enough to determine the number fledged per nest. Perhaps help next
year would yield more complete data.
NEST BY NEST SPECIFICS
N. Titus Rd. Nest in 2015 discovered by Ken Humphreys, was in top of 1 of 2
tall White Pine and fledged 4 or 5 young. In 2016 a pair nested in a White Pine
less than 100 m distant in nest stolen from Fish Crow, but failed. In 2017
Merlin stole Fish Crow nest in the other of the two tall White Pine. Nest was
destroyed by major wind storm. This could be the same pair for 3 years, or at
least 1 bird from the same pair. For 2 adults to fledge only 4 young in 3 years
is very low nesting success.
Lake Rd Dryden, NY. Courting pair first reported by Fred Rimmel. Fledged at
least 2 young in 2017. This nest is was in a spruce tree and was about 450 m
from successful nest in a spruce tree last year on Kimberly Rd. It seems
probably that 1 or both of the pair for this year came from the pair last year.
City Cemetery. Nesting activity first reported by Andy Zepp. This nest in a
White Pine failed as did 2 other nests in the City Cemetery in preceding years.
I wonder if there could be a resident Great Horned Owl that eats Merlins or
Tioga Point Cemetery. Nesting activity reported by Bill Howe. Bill is retired
from a career of working with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Some may remember
his name from his undergrad years at Cornell. This nest fledged young from a
nest in a spruce tree. This large cemetery had Am. Crow, Fish Crow and Merlin.
It seems unusual to have all three species hanging out in the same location.
Maplewood Rd. Crow monitoring crew first reported this Merlin pair as they
stole a nest built this year by American Crow. (While the Merlin-watching
people appreciate the service provided to Merlins by crows, it is not clear the
feeling is reciprocated by crow-watchers:).) This nest in a spruce tree fledged
young, probably four. This was the most flimsy, tiny nest I have observed used
by Merlin. Over-topping branches covered only about 10% of the nest from
passing predators, such as Red-tailed Hawks. I didn't think it could make it,
but it did.
Etna, NY. Courtship behavior, i.e., calls, reported by Chris Hynes. The nest in
a spruce tree fledged 4 young. It took me about 4 trips to find where the birds
were nesting, which can usually be found in 1 or 2 trips to an area with
Endicott, NY. Nest reported and monitored by Mike Jordan. Apparently fledged
Merlin are one of the few species, the only species I know, that has expended
into NY from the North in the last 30 years. It's progress into PA and its
nesting success are intriguing to follow. All nest I have heard about are in a
decidedly urban location. All nests are in conifers planted perhaps 50-100
years ago. All nests were built by crows, as far as we can tell. Many of them
have been stolen from crows in the spring that the crows built them.
Fascinating. Thanks for your help and interest. Hopefully we can do this again
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