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Eurasian hobby

Eurasian hobby
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Genus: Falco
Species: F. subbuteo
Binomial name
Falco subbuteo
Linnaeus, 1758

The Eurasian hobby (Falco subbuteo), or just simply hobby, is a small slim falcon. It belongs to a rather close-knit group of similar falcons often considered a subgenus Hypotriorchis.[2][3][4]


  • Description 1
  • Taxonomy and systematics 2
  • Distribution and status 3
  • Behaviour and ecology 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Adults are slate-grey above with a dark crown and two short black moustachial stripes. The throat is unstreaked white, thighs and undertail 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 undertail coverts.[5]

The hobby has a distinct first-summer plumage.[6]

This falcon is 29–36 cm (11–14 in) in length with a wingspan of 74–84 cm (29–33 in) and a weight of 175–285 g (6.2–10.1 oz).[7]

Taxonomy and systematics

This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Falco subbuteo.[8]

Currently two subspecies are recognized:

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

Distribution and status

This species breeds across Africa, Europe and Asia. It is a long-distance migrant, wintering in Africa and Asia.

Behaviour and ecology

Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden, Germany

It is a bird of open country such as farmland, marshes, taiga and savannah. They are widespread in lowlands with scattered small woods. It is an elegant bird of prey, appearing sickle-like in flight with its long pointed wings and square tail, often resembling a swift when gliding with folded wings. It flies powerfully and fast. It will take large insects, such as dragonflies, which it transfers from talons to beak and eats while soaring slowly in circles.[9] It also captures small bats and small birds like swallows, swifts, pipits etc. in flight. Its speed and aerobatic skills enable it to take swallows and even swifts on the wing, and barn swallows or house martins have a characteristic "hobby" alarm call. It is known to harass swallows while they are roosting and dispersing from roosts.[5] When not breeding, it is crepuscular, hawking principally in the mornings and evenings. While on migration, they may move in small groups.

Hobbies 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 a spinney, 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.[10]

It is a very bold and courageous bird and was used in falconry, trained to hawk birds like quails, larks, hoopoes, drongos, etc.[11]


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Helbig, A.J.; Seibold, I.; Bednarek, W.; Brüning, H.; Gaucher, P.; Ristow, D.; Scharlau, W.; Schmidl, D.; Wink, Michael (1994). Meyburg, B.-U.; Chancellor, R.D., eds. Phylogenetic relationships among falcon species (genus Falco) according to DNA sequence variation of the cytochrome b gene (PDF). Raptor conservation today: 593–599. 
  3. ^ Wink, Michael; Seibold, I.; Lotfikhah, F.; Bednarek, W. (1998). Chancellor, R.D.; Meyburg, B.-U.; Ferrero, J.J., eds. Molecular systematics of holarctic raptors (Order Falconiformes) (PDF). Holarctic Birds of Prey (Adenex & WWGBP). pp. 29–48. 
  4. ^ Nittinger, F.; Haring, E.; Pinsker, W.; Wink, Michael; Gamauf, A. (2005). and other hierofalcons (Aves Falconidae)"Falco biarmicus"Out of Africa? Phylogenetic relationships between (PDF). Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 43 (4): 321–331.  
  5. ^ a b Rasmussen, P.C.; Anderton, J.C. (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. pp. 114–115.  
  6. ^ Small, Brian (1992). "First-summer Hobbies in the New Forest" (PDF).  
  7. ^ Jais, Markus. "Falco subbuteo"Eurasian Hobby, . European Raptors: Biology and Conservation. 
  8. ^  
  9. ^ Butler, E.A. (1875). "Notes on the Avifauna of Mount Aboo and Northern Guzerat". Stray Feathers 3: 443–444. 
  10. ^ Baker, E.C.S. (1928). Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 5 (2 ed.). London: Taylor and Francis. pp. 41–45. 
  11. ^ Jerdon, T.C. (1864). The birds of India. Volume 1. George Wyman and Co, Calcutta. pp. 34–35. 

External links

  • Eurasian Hobby or Hobby Falcon species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds
  • Ageing and sexing (PDF; 5.7 MB) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta & Gerd-Michael Heinze
  • Audio recordings of Eurasian hobby on Xeno-canto.
  • Eurasian hobby videos, photos, and sounds at the Internet Bird Collection
  • Falco subbuteoBirdLife species factsheet for
  • Falco subbuteo on Avibase
  • Eurasian hobby photo gallery at VIREO (Drexel University)
  • Falco subbuteoInteractive range map of at IUCN Red List maps
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