Merlin Falco columbarius


Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Least Concern
2016 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency low
Land mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 103,000,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 146,000,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 250000-3200000 poor suspected 2020
Population trend stable suspected -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 4.39 - - -

Population justification: The European population is estimated at 20,000-41,700 pairs, which equates to 40,100-83,400 mature individuals (BirdLife International in prep.). Europe forms approximately 15% of the global range so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 267,000-556,000 mature individuals. Partners in Flight (2020) estimate the North American population at approximately 1,600,000 mature individuals, and the global population at 3,200,000 mature individuals. Given the wide range of the population estimates, the global population is placed in the band 250,000-3,200,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification: In North America, this species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last five decades (on average 3.5% per year, equating to 56% over three generations; Partners in Flight 2020). Note, however, that these surveys cover less than 50% of the species's global range. In Europe, the breeding population size is decreasing by at least 30% over 13 years (three generations [Bird et al. 2020]) (BirdLife International in prep.). Overall, the global population is suspected to be stable.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Afghanistan extant native yes
Albania extant native
Algeria extant native
Anguilla (to UK) extant native
Antigua and Barbuda extant native
Armenia extant native yes
Aruba (to Netherlands) extant native
Austria extant native yes
Azerbaijan extant native
Bahamas extant native
Bahrain extant vagrant yes
Barbados extant native
Belarus extant native yes
Belgium extant native yes yes
Belize extant native yes
Bermuda (to UK) extant native
Bhutan extant vagrant
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) extant native
Bosnia and Herzegovina extant native yes
Brazil extant native
Bulgaria extant native yes yes
Canada extant native yes yes
Cayman Islands (to UK) extant native
China (mainland) extant native yes
Colombia extant native
Costa Rica extant native yes
Croatia extant native yes yes
Cuba extant native
Curaçao (to Netherlands) extant native
Cyprus extant native yes
Czechia extant native yes
Denmark extant native yes yes
Dominica extant native
Dominican Republic extant native
Ecuador extant native
Egypt extant native
El Salvador extant native
Estonia extant native yes
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) extant native yes
Finland extant native yes yes
France extant native yes yes
French Guiana extant native
Georgia extant native yes
Germany extant native yes yes
Gibraltar (to UK) extant native
Greece extant native yes
Greenland (to Denmark) extant vagrant
Grenada extant native
Guadeloupe (to France) extant native yes
Guatemala extant native
Guyana extant native
Haiti extant native
Honduras extant native
Hungary extant native yes
Iceland extant native yes
India extant native
Iran, Islamic Republic of extant native yes
Iraq extant native yes
Ireland extant native yes yes
Israel extant native
Italy extant native yes yes
Jamaica extant native
Japan extant native
Jordan extant native yes
Kazakhstan extant native yes
Kuwait extant native yes yes
Kyrgyzstan extant native yes
Laos extant native
Latvia extant native yes
Lebanon extant native yes yes
Libya extant native
Liechtenstein extant vagrant
Lithuania extant native yes
Luxembourg extant native yes
Malta extant vagrant
Martinique (to France) extant native
Mexico extant native
Moldova extant native yes
Mongolia extant native yes
Montenegro extant native yes
Montserrat (to UK) extant native
Morocco extant native
Nepal extant native
Netherlands extant native yes
Nicaragua extant native
North Korea extant native
North Macedonia extant native yes
Norway extant native yes yes
Oman extant vagrant yes
Pakistan extant native
Panama extant native
Peru extant native
Philippines extant vagrant
Poland extant native yes yes
Portugal extant native yes
Puerto Rico (to USA) extant native
Qatar extant native yes yes
Romania extant native yes
Russia extant native yes
Russia (Asian) extant native yes
Russia (Central Asian) extant native yes
Russia (European) extant native yes
Saudi Arabia extant native yes
Senegal extant vagrant
Serbia extant native yes
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) extant native
Slovakia extant native yes
Slovenia extant native yes
South Korea extant native
Spain extant native yes
St Barthelemy (to France) extant native
St Kitts and Nevis extant native
St Lucia extant native
St Martin (to France) extant native
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) extant native yes yes
St Vincent and the Grenadines extant native
Sudan extant vagrant yes
Suriname extant native
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) extant vagrant
Sweden extant native yes
Switzerland extant native yes
Syria extant native yes
Tajikistan extant native
Thailand extant vagrant
Trinidad and Tobago extant native
Tunisia extant native
Turkey extant native yes
Turkmenistan extant native
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) extant native
Ukraine extant native yes yes
United Arab Emirates extant vagrant yes
United Kingdom extant native yes
USA extant native yes
Uzbekistan extant native
Venezuela extant native
Vietnam extant native
Virgin Islands (to UK) extant native yes
Virgin Islands (to USA) extant native yes
Yemen extant vagrant yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Canada Tadoussac
Croatia Krka and Surrounding Plateau
Croatia Middle Dalmatian Islands and Peljesac Penninsula
Croatia Ravni Kotari
Ireland Wicklow Mountains
Latvia Adazi
Latvia Irbe valley and Dizpurvs
Latvia Teici and Pelecare bogs
Portugal Castro Verde plains
Romania Danube Delta
Romania Dealurile Târnavelor - Valea Nirajului
Romania Dobrogei gorge
Romania Kogălniceanu - Gura Ialomiţei
Romania Măcin - Niculiţel
Romania Mândra wetlands
Romania Prut river flood-plain - Vlădeşti - Frumuşiţa
Romania Râului Negru valley
Romania Stepa Saraiu - Horea
Sweden Lake Ånn – Storlien
Sweden Sjaunja
United Kingdom Berwyn
United Kingdom Bowland Fells
United Kingdom Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands
United Kingdom Grampian Mountains
United Kingdom Lammermuirs
United Kingdom Lewis Peatlands
United Kingdom Loch Shin and nearby lochs
United Kingdom Migneint - Arenig - Dduallt
United Kingdom Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands
United Kingdom North Pennine Moors
United Kingdom North Yorkshire Moors
United Kingdom Ornkey Mainland Moors
United Kingdom Ronas Hill - North Roe and Tingon
United Kingdom South Pennine and Peak District Moors
United Kingdom West Inverness-shire Lochs

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable non-breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Pastureland suitable non-breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Plantations suitable breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Urban Areas suitable resident
Forest Boreal suitable breeding
Forest Temperate suitable resident
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded suitable non-breeding
Grassland Temperate suitable resident
Grassland Tundra suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Mud Flats and Salt Flats suitable non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses) suitable non-breeding
Shrubland Boreal suitable breeding
Shrubland Temperate suitable resident
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands suitable breeding
Altitude   Occasional altitudinal limits (max) 3000 m

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Agro-industry farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Livestock farming & ranching - Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species mortality
Biological resource use Logging & wood harvesting - Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species disturbance
Energy production & mining Renewable energy Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species mortality
Human intrusions & disturbance Recreational activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Reduced reproductive success
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Problematic native species/diseases - Vulpes vulpes Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species mortality
Pollution Agricultural & forestry effluents - Herbicides and pesticides Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Reduced reproductive success
Pollution Industrial & military effluents - Type Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Species mortality
Transportation & service corridors Utility & service lines Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Species mortality

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - international non-trivial recent
Sport hunting/specimen collecting - - non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Falco columbarius. Downloaded from on 01/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/06/2023.