Eurasian Hobby

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Image:EurasianHobby.JPG

Common Name: Northern or Eurasian Hobby
Scientific Name: Falco subbuteo

Size: 11.4-14.1 inches (29-36 cm); Wingspan: 29.1-33 inches (74-84 cm)

Habitat: Europe, Asia and Africa; most individuals of the species are migratory, with western birds wintering in Africa and others in southern Asia. Birds leave their breeding grounds between August and October, arriving at wintering quarters from late October onwards. The return journey begins in March and April, and breeding territories are occupied again in May and June. Birds are usually seen singly or in pairs or family groups, even on migration, with larger groups being rare except at roosts and especially rich feeding sites. It migrates in broad fronts and does not generally concentrate at narrow sea crossings as do many other migratory raptors. It is mainly diurnal although partly crepuscular and even nocturnal to some extent on migration.

It is found in the open country such as farmland, marshes, taiga and savannah. They are widespread in lowlands with scattered small woods.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: >400,000 individuals. The population trend is declining due to habitat loss. The cutting of old growth forest patches in Ukraine is thought to have caused local declines. Some are shot, notably in Malta where hunters are thought to kill 500-1,000 individuals each year. A growing threat is human disturbance, which facilitates nest predation by crows and squirrels. Pesticide use has likely had only minor impacts, as has egg-collecting, which tends to be a local issue. The species is highly vulnerable to the effects of potential wind energy development.

Diet: Large insects (such as dragonflies), small birds, bats and small mammals.

Nesting: Females are noticeably larger than males. Adults are slate-grey above with a dark crown and 2 short black moustachial stripes. The throat is unstreaked white, thighs and under tail coverts are unstreaked rufous and rest of the underparts are whitish with black streaks. Close views enable the red "trousers" and vent to be seen. Sexes are similar. Juveniles are generally much browner, with scaled upper parts and streaked buffy thighs and under tail coverts. The hobby has a distinct first-summer plumage.

Hobbys nest in old nests of crows and other birds. The tree selected is most often one in a hedge or on the extreme edge of woods or small forest, whence the bird can observe intruders from a considerable distance. It lays 2–4 eggs. Incubation is said to take 28 days and both parents share in this duty, though the female does the greater part.

Cool Facts: Hobbys eat on the run, transferring large insects from talons to beak and eating while soaring slowly in circles.

Hobbys are used in falconry, trained to hawk birds like quails, larks, hoopoes and drongos.

There are two subspecies recognized:

  • F. s. subbuteo, described by Linnaeus in 1758. This is the nominate race, resident in Africa, Europe and Central and East Asia, and wintering in Central and South Africa and South Asia.
  • F. s. streichi, described by Hartert and Neumann in 1907. It is smaller in size and is found further east of F. s. subbuteo's distribution range.


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

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