[Three Hundred Animals Contents]
IS the least of the hawk species, and, as his name implies, is not much different in size from the Black-bird; the word Merlin signifying in French, a small merle or black-bird. However, he is one of the best birds our Falconers use for hawking. The male is also smaller than the female, as in the other kinds; and is noted for his daringness and spirit, often attacking and killing at one stroke, a full grown patridge or a quail. The back of this bird is party-coloured, of dark blue and brown; the flag feathers of the wings black, with rusty spots; the train is about five inches long, of a dark brown or blackish colour, with transverse white bars; the breast and belly down are of a dirty white, interspersed with brown spots; the legs are long, slender, and yellow; the talons black. The head is encircled with a row of yellowish feathers, not unlike a coronet. In the male the feathers on the rump, next the tail, are bluer; a note, by which, as well as by his size, the Falconers easily discern the sex of the bird.
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