The overall distribution of this species can be assessed, and
specific locations where birds have been spotted can be found,
based on individual sighting reports submitted by birdwatchers to
The global distribution of the Merlin is available
There are many races of Merlins, which populate parts of all
continents in the northern hemisphere, i.e. North America,
Europe and Asia; the detailed distribution and range of Merlins
is complex (see, e.g., Wikipedia ).
There are two groups of races, the American group and the
The 3 members of the American group are nominate race "columbarius"
(the Taiga Merlin or Tundra Merlin), race "richardsonii" (the
Prairie Merlin) and race "suckleyi" (the Coastal Forest Merlin
or Black Merlin).
The Eurasian group comprises 6 races:
aesalon" is by far the most widespread, breeding
from the British Isles via most of Scandinavia eastward into
central Siberia. This race spends the northern winter in
most of Europe, north-western Africa, Asia Minor, parts of
the Middle East and farther to the East into Iran.
The other continental Asian races are "aesalon pallidus",
"aesalon insignis", "aesalon lymani" and "aesalon pacificus".
Race "aesalon subaesalon" occurs only on the Faroe Islands
and on Iceland.
In Europe Merlins, race "aesalon aesalon",
are permanent residents in near-coastal areas of Ireland and
central England to northern Scotland. This population may only
leave highlands in winter. Migratory birds spend the winters
in the southern parts of the British Isles. In the summer the
migratory continental European population breeds in central to
northern Scandinavia and eastwards, from the Baltic states into
European Russia (and beyond), northward of about 55 degrees
latitude. They spend the northern winters in central Europe
and in the Mediterranean, but outside the mountain ranges
(Alps, Pyreenees, Appennin, but also the karst to the East
of the Adriatic Sea).
Merlins have a preference for relatively open country with scattered
trees. During migration, but also while wintering, basically any
relatively open landscape will do, from desert to arable land,
as long as there are some kind of suitable perches. During the
breeding season grassland, heath, taiga, tundra, paddocks with
scattered trees etc. are preferred, which provide richer hunting
grounds and suitable nest sites.