Australian Hobby

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Image:AustralianHobby.JPG

Common Name: Australian Hobby
Scientific Name: Falco longipennis

Size: 11.8-14 inches (30-35.5 cm); Wingspan: 29.1-33 inches (74-84 cm)

Habitat: Oceania; Australia. It is found throughout mainland Australia, including off shore islands (such as Lord Howe Island), however their range is restricted in Tasmania. Migrating individuals have also been recorded on the islands of Indonesia and New Guinea.

They are most commonly seen in open habitats, including open woodland, water courses and vegetated urban areas, but are rarely recorded around cliffs or escarpments.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: Unknown number of adult individuals. The population is increasing in Tasmania, possibly owing to drought encouraging more migrant prey species to over winter in Tasmania. The species has adapted to urbanization throughout much of its range. Since dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was introduced to agriculture in 1946, egg shell thickness of some species of falcon including the Australian hobby, was significantly reduced. This led to some decline in local populations through egg breakage during incubation but did not eventuate in widespread population declines for the Australian hobby.

Diet: Large insects (such as dragonflies), small birds, bats and small mammals. Research suggests they tend to avoid large, dangerous, or agile species that forage close to cover, such as the common myna.

Nesting: Females are noticeably larger than males. The plumage varies in color depending on sex, age and environment with a darker form in humid areas and a lighter form in drier environments. In general, it has a black cap and mask with a whitish forehead and half-collar. Under parts can be blue-gray or rufous and streaked darker. The cere on adults is a pale yellowish-gray with the eye ring being a pale blue color. The feet are dull yellow.

Nesting usually occurs any time between August to January when old stick nests of other large birds are taken over. Three to four heavily blotched eggs are laid with incubation taking about 35 days. Successful broods usually comprise two to three young. The fledglings remain dependent for up to three months after which the young disperse or migrate widely. Research has shown that brooding is shared by both male and female hobbys however feeding of the nestlings after hatching becomes the responsibility of the female. Early on in the nestling period the male hunting rate increases to supplement the female with observations indicating food is brought to the nest every three hours, with a longer break in the middle of the day.

Cool Facts: The hobby is a widespread and common hunter that often hunts at dusk, diurnally and sometimes nocturnally by artificial light. Hobbys have been witnessed catching their prey in mid-air, by direct attack from a perch or in fast contour-flying above or between tree canopies. It is acrobatic in the pursuit of prey and attacks fleeing birds in a series of short shallow stoops.

Three subspecies of Australian Hobby:

  • F. l. longipennis, described by Swainson in 1838.
  • F. l. hanieli, described by Hellmayr in 1914. It is slightly smaller and paler below than F. l. longipennis
  • F. l. murchisonianus, described by Mathews in 1912. It is paler blue-gray above with a dull blackish head, and paler reddish-brown below with less distinct markings.


This 3D model is found in Songbird Remix Birds of Prey Volume I: Kestrels, Hobbies and Falcons

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