Join our trip leader, Bill Zimmerman, for what should be a unique and interesting late afternoon field trip to specifically find wintering Merlins. We will certainly take our time and look for other late migrants and winter visitors, but Merlins are our goal. Bill is an excellent birder and naturalist and an expert on Merlins in our area. He has been finding and watching them at both Saint Joseph’s Cemeteries in Price Hill for years. Bill is also an organizer for the annual Cincinnati Merlin Census. We will begin our trip at the “Old” St. Joseph’s Cemetery. After 45 minutes or so, we will move west and wrap up at the “New” St. Joseph’s Cemetery. Bill hopes to find Merlins at each location.
Prior to the year 2000, Merlins, small but aggressive falcons, were generally only known in our region of the country as rare to uncommon spring and fall migrants and accidental winter visitors. But a remarkable change was about to take place.
During the winter of 1999-2000 at least 1 Merlin was regularly seen over-wintering at Spring Grove Cemetery by many observers. Over the next 3 winters, at least 2 Merlins were present there. During the winter of 2004, Bill Zimmerman reported a Merlin at Saint Joseph’s Cemetery, a first record from that cemetery. The following year Merlins were found overwintering at both St. Joseph Cemeteries in Price Hill (the “new” and the “old”). Bill Z saw as many as 4 Merlins at one time at the Old St. Josephs Cemetery during the winter of 2007. Since then Merlins have over-wintered annually in all three of these cemeteries and have established themselves as locally fairly common winter residents in these cemeteries.
Over these years other Merlins have began wintering in our region, many of them in other local cemeteries, but others in other urban habitats that have similar habitats as those found in cemeteries. While Merlins are still scarce in our region, they have become regular winter residents in these preferred habitats. These cemeteries apparently provide their preferred habitat, which are generally open areas scattered with mixed coniferous/deciduous trees (no closed canopy) and plenty of small birds to eat.
This trip will end around dusk (5:30 PM) and it will likely be cold so dress accordingly. Public restrooms are nearby. We will meet at 3:00 PM at the entrance to the Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery located at 3819 W 8th Street and Seton Ave. in Price Hill. Contact Bill if you have any questions.
“Old” St. Joseph’s Cemetery website (The one we are meeting at)
“New” St. Josephs Cemetery website