Last week I went out and there was a fairly big bird in a tree in the front yard. I slowly walked to where I could see it better, it was a merlin falcon. He or she sat there without moving for about 15 minutes, then swooped down upon a house finch and flew off. A few minutes later I was in the kitchen and saw the merlin was in a backyard tree, picking the little bird clean.
I've seen birds of prey circling my neighborhood before, in the summer, but they were kestrels. This was the first time I've seen a merlin, let alone one in action.