October is the big month for the migration of raptors through here, including Merlins such as this one. Merlins are small, fast falcons that range in size from 9 to 13 inches and prey mostly on sparrows and other small birds.
They were once called “Pigeon Hawks” in North America. Their current name is derived from the Old Frankish word for falcon, “esmerillon,” perhaps due to their historic popularity in falconry.
During the Middle Ages in England, they were known as the Lady’s Falcon because ladies of the court sported by sending the birds “ringing” (circling upward rapidly) after skylarks.