Predatory bird of small size (about 33 cm or 13 in) and with an also small wingspan (about 69 cm or 27 in). Blue-grey head and upperparts in males and rufous in females. The underparts, cheeks and breast are rufous with streaks in the male and white with streaks in the female. White throat. Little marked moustachial stripe. Short, wide and pointed wings. Very fast and powerful flight.
Species of open areas. It avoids forest and mountainous areas, preferring instead steppes, cereal crops, wetlands, mixed spaces with grassland and scattered shrubland and agricultural fertile plains.
Wintering species in the province. The Merlin breeds in the north at the end of April. Nest on the ground. It lays 3 to 5 eggs. Specialist in the capture of small birds in low altitude flights, especially birds of terrestrial habits such as larks or pipits. This raptor also consumes insects and bats.
The Merlin is a little abundant species but observed with certain frequency in the region of Antequera, Alameda and Campillos. Occasionally, specimens have been watched in other areas of Malaga, such as, for example, in the agricultural and most deforested areas of Alto Genal. In the Great Path it is present in stages 16 and 18.
It is the smallest hawk in Europe, similar in size to a pigeon. Its Latin name makes reference precisely to that, since Columbarius means in Latin "like a dove". Its common name in Spanish (“esmerejón”) comes from the old French “émerillon”, which means “revolving”. This small hawk is capable of fast flights with unexpected twists and turns. These rotating acrobatics allow the bird to furtively capture its prey, which it harasses with untiring persecutory flights. This implies a high effort which forces the Merlin to hunt at least twice a day.