Juvenile Peregrine over Holyoke’s canals — or was it a Merlin?

I was out shooting some architectural photography this afternoon for an upcoming project when I spotted a distinct falcon shape over the canal near Appleton Street.

With just enough time to change the settings on my camera for a suitable moving-subject shot, I was able to capture this frame:

Click to enlarge. (c) Greg Saulmon 2012

Now, I know Peregrines are regular visitors to downtown Holyoke, but this bird’s field marks — mostly brown, heavily spotted, with only a very faint hint of the Peregrine’s signature “mustache” — made me wonder if this could be a migrating Merlin.

When I enlarged the photo, I noticed this bird seemed to have the whitish “eyebrow” that serves as one of the Merlin’s few distinct field marks.

It’s a tough call here, so feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.

  1. danr26 said:

    It doesn’t look hefty enough to be peregrine. Also, the overall impression is of darkness = classic for a merlin. Nice shot!
    Dan Russell

    • Thanks for weighing in, Dan! Is this likely to be a Merlin in migration, or is it possible that we have one living in the city?

      Nice to meet you on Sugarloaf on Saturday. Really enjoyed the program.

      – Greg

  2. Lorrin said:

    Great shot! I definitely vote Merlin seeing the horizontal bands in the tail.

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