When I think of a Merlin, I think of speed and stealth. Though the larger Peregrine Falcon has a higher top speed (especially when in a stoop), a Merlin flies with unparalleled intensity. Jenny and I once witnessed one cruise in from a coastal island in pursuit of an unidentified bird and were amazed with the arrow-like flight-path of the constantly flapping bird.
Merlins frequently hunt low to the ground and use their speed to surprise and/or chase down small songbirds and shorebirds. Their diet also includes dragonflies and small mammals. As rare nesters in New England, most Merlins are seen during fall and spring migration, and in small numbers during the white season.