Falco columbarius 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Falconiformes Falconidae

Scientific Name: Falco columbarius
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Merlin
French Faucon émerillon
Taxonomic Source(s): 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. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2012-05-03
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S. & Ashpole, J
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be fluctuating, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2012 Least Concern (LC)
2009 Least Concern (LC)
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)
2000 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Armenia (Armenia); Aruba; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahamas; Barbados; Belarus; Belgium; Belize; Bermuda; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Saba, Sint Eustatius); Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Bulgaria; Canada; Cayman Islands; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Croatia; Cuba; Curaçao; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Egypt; El Salvador; Estonia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; French Guiana; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Hungary; Iceland; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Latvia; Lebanon; Libya; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Martinique; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Montserrat; Morocco; Nepal; Netherlands; Nicaragua; Norway; Pakistan; Panama; Peru; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Qatar; Romania; Russian Federation; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Saudi Arabia; Serbia (Serbia); Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Canary Is. - Vagrant); Suriname; Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Tajikistan; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Turks and Caicos Islands; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United States; Uzbekistan; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Viet Nam; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.
Bahrain; Bhutan; Greenland; Liechtenstein; Malta; Oman; Philippines; Senegal; Sudan; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Thailand; United Arab Emirates; Yemen
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 23100000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population is estimated to number approximately 3,000,000 individuals or 2,000,000 mature individuals (Partners in Flight Science Committee 2013). The European population is estimated at 32,000-51,600 pairs, which equates to 64,000-103,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 15% of the global range so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 427,000-687,000 mature individuals. The North American population is estimated at approximately 1,300,000 individuals or 867,000 mature individuals (Partners in Flight Science Committee 2013). Given the wide range of the population estimates, the global population is placed in the band 500,000-2,000,000 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  The overall trend is likely to be fluctuating. This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America (295% increase over 40 years, equating to a 41% increase per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007). Note, however, that these surveys cover less than 50% of the species's range in North America. In Europe the population size trend is unknown (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 500000-2000000 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The use of chlorinated hydrocarbons between 1960s and 1970s caused some reproductive failure: eggshells in Europe showed 13% thinning and in North America 23% thinning (White et al. 2015). With the banning of these pesticides their impact has fallen as indicated by breeding densities and distributions, migration counts and wintering distributions and numbers. The species also suffers collisions with man-made objects (White et al. 2015). Population declines have also been attributed to loss of suitable habitat through overgrazing, insensitive management, and increased tourism disturbing nest sites. Predation by Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is also a threat (Mebs and Schmidt 2006).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2015. Falco columbarius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22696453A80452350. . Downloaded on 27 November 2015.
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