Why is the red headed merlin an unusual bird?

          The red headed merlin is a kind of falcon which is small, but powerful. It is also known as red-headed falcon. It is a little bird with pointed wings and pale grey plumage on its upper parts. Its head and the back of its neck are bright chestnut colour. They make a high-pitched, squealing bird call.

          In India, they are found in open habitats and are not found in dense forests or high hills. Despite their small size, these birds fly at great speeds in search of prey and catch small birds, rats, lizards and large insects. Sometimes, they may even hunt down bats. In some places, the relatively larger females among these birds are trained to hunt birds like rollers, hoopoes, mynas and partridges.

          The red headed merlins are usually found in pairs, near cultivation areas and they perch on small hills. They build their own nests in date palms or may sometimes use an old crow’s nest. The clutch consists of two to four eggs.

          These birds are very common in India. Apart from India, these birds are also found in Africa.