Calgary traffic cam gets surprise visit from merlin falcon

A weary bird looking for a nice place to perch became an unknowing star on one of Calgary's traffic cameras.

Merlin falcon a 'wonderful, fast bird of prey,' says wildlife expert

This #prettybirdie was captured recently on a city traffic cam. (@yyctransport/Twitter)

A weary bird looking for a nice place to perch became an unknowing star on one of Calgary's traffic cams.

"We recently had a little visitor pop by our traffic camera at Glenmore Tr. and Elbow Dr. #yyctraffic #prettybirdie," tweeted @yyctransport, the city's transportation account, on Thursday.

The bird takes in the view for a few seconds before spreading its wings onto the next destination. 

Local wildlife biologist Amy Moores says the bird is a merlin falcon, and could be female based on its colouring.

She said it's not uncommon to see the birds in Calgary, as they winter in the city, but they do thrive in a variety of habitats — including the Prairies.

Moores says the small falcon mainly feeds on other birds.

Wildlife expert Brian Keating says the merlin falcon is a "wonderful, fast bird of prey."

"They only weigh about 220 grams, but are capable of taking a pigeon twice their weight," he said in an email while watching a gyrfalcon hunt in Edmonton.

City of Calgary transportation spokesman Sean Somers says it's not typical to see wildlife on any of the 115 traffic cameras around the city.

"Usually it's just cars and traffic," he said.

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