There are three kinds of falcons in Pennsylvania, and the city and suburbs of Williamsport has been hosting two of them for the last several years. Both previously nested far from the city, with Peregrines nesting on cliff ledges, and Merlins in the forest and prairie. Both are now making their homes in the city with plenty of food to be had and new kinds of nesting sites. The third and smallest falcon in Pennsylvania is the American Kestrel, a bird of the countryside.
In previous blogs, Peregrine Falcons–Banding Day! and Peregrine Falcons–Ready to Fledge!, I wrote about our largest falcon and its life history. Now we are looking at the pigeon-sized falcon, an incredibly fast bird, called the Merlin. This year, the pair of Merlins occupied a nest in a dead pine tree in front of the new Armory building in Loyalsock Township. They seemed unconcerned with the people getting in and out of their cars in the parking lot next to the tree, and made themselves at home chasing the larger crows and smaller birds for their food. Merlins don’t build their own nests, and will occupy on old crow’s nest, or tree cavity. The pair successfully fledged three young which often came back to the nest tree, but spread out further into the neighborhood each day. I enjoyed watching them fly so gracefully, then try to land so ungracefully on the tree limbs.