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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Hobby

Falco subbuteo

  • Name also: Eurasian Hobby
  • Family: Falcons – Falconidae
  • Appearance: A medium-sized falcon with long pointed wings and a longish blunt-ended tail. Flight vigorous, rapid and agile.
  • Size: Length 29–35 cm, wingspan 70–84 cm, weight 170–340 g.
  • Nest: Uses abandoned crow’s nests.
  • Breeding: Lays 2–4 eggs from late May. Eggs mainly incubated by female, for about 28 days. Young birds able to fly within 28–34 days.
  • Distribution: Common breeder in Southern Finland, scarcer further north. Nests in woodland with tall trees (especially in farmland and near shores), hunts in open habitats including shores and near human habitation. Present Finnish population estimated at 2,000–3,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Migrates towards wintering areas in tropical Africa from mid August, returning April–May. Seldom observed during migration.
  • Diet: Insects and birds. Some individuals specialise in hunting small birds in flight, including swifts. Hunts insects well into dusk on summer evenings. In late summer often feeds on dragonflies.
  • Calls: Shrill call made constantly from nest, similar to call of Wryneck.

Hobbies have slate grey upper parts and white underparts marked with dark streaks and a conspicuous reddish undertail coverts. They have white throats and distinct black mask-like and moustache-like markings on their faces. Juvenile birds have dark brown backs and lack red undertail coverts. Legs are yellow on adults, but paler on younger birds. Hobbies have bluish beaks with ceres that are yellow on adults and bluish on juveniles. They have yellow eye rings around their dark irises.

Hobbies have long narrow wings, and their silhouettes in flight resemble that of a Swift, though they are much larger. Their flight combines great speed and impressive agility. They typically catch prey from above by plummeting rapidly downwards with their wings held tightly closed.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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