Nest cameras

Through the Merlin Magic project we are pleased to be able to share views of merlin nests using remote cameras. On this page you will find footage of some of the merlin nests we are monitoring, which will give you a unique insight into the day-to-day behaviour of these elusive falcons.

We have used trail cameras to provide a view into the nesting behaviour of this secretive bird, which nests on heather moorland in northern England. Merlin nests were visited under disturbance licence to measure hatching success, ring chicks, and determine how many fledged. During routine visits throughout 2022, we installed trail cameras at four suitable nests to observe the birds. Cameras were disguised with heather and positioned 1.5 m away to give a good view of the nest. You can find more information about how we set up trail cameras by reading our ‘Installing trail cameras for merlin’ protocol.

The cameras helped us to collect information on the frequency of food provisions to nestlings and the kind of diet they were fed. The following three videos illustrate females feeding chicks which were four, seven, and 21 days old. Footage was collected over six consecutive days from two nests and for only one and two days respectively at the others. In these latter cases chicks wandered from the original nest scrape and so were not filmed for as long a period. The footage we collected encompassed 91 prey delivery events, with meadow pipits being the main prey fed to chicks. Prey was delivered six times per day on average, up to a maximum of 11 times a day.

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