Magical Merlin’s, by Bruce A Haak. 1st Edition 2021. Hard bound book.
Limited copies are signed by Author.
Magical Merlin’s is a must have for anyone who is fascinated by these remarkable birds. They’ve been one of my favorite birds for decades. Bruce Haak was the perfect person to spearhead this project, writing most of the chapters, doing much of the scientific research, and taking many of the photographs. He has a lengthy background in raptor research, having studied birds of prey since his college days in the 1970s and spending much of his career as a wildlife biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. He’s also a wonderful writer. The first book of his I read was Pirate of the Plains: Adventures with Prairie Falcons on the High Plains, which was part natural history study, part memoir, and a fascinating read for anyone. He is that rarity among scientists, an author who can write engaging prose of interest to scientists and layman alike.
The text of Magical Merlin’s is groundbreaking and made me rethink some of my impressions of the species. For example, it had never occurred to me that the merlin had become an apex predator for a couple of decades when Peregrine Falcons had become critically rare and that after the Peregrines made their comeback, Merlin’s drastically changed their hunting strategies and the shorebirds they preyed upon changed their attack-evasion techniques—a significant evolution of behavior taking place in our own lifetime. Amazing, but it makes so much sense.
In addition to its text, Magical Merlin’s is a beautiful book, with numerous color illustrations, by the likes of Hans Peeters, John Schmitt, Andrew Ellis, and Carl Bass, and a great selection of photographs, some taken by Bruce. John Schmitt also wrote a chapter in the book, studying closely the three subspecies of North American Merlin’s and their plumages, presenting side-by-side illustrations of almost every possible variation among them, which will be useful for birders and scientists alike. I applaud the work of everyone who took part in producing this book, a truly remarkable accomplishment.
Details of Magical Merlins are as follows:
–The work of five authors, six painters, and 12 photographers, it contains 35 illustrations (paintings, maps, plates) and 66 color photos.
–The book is 182 pages in length and measures 8 by 10 inches (20.5 by 25.5 cm). Weight is 3lb.
–It addresses breeding, migration, wintering behavior and winter range, subspecies and intergrading, foraging and roosting behavior, plumage variations, urban adaptations, and range expansion.
5191 – Magical Merlin’s, by Bruce A Haak. $49.95