The Eurasian Hobby, Falco subbuteo
The Eurasian Hobby, a small slim falcon, belongs to a rather close knit group of similar falcons. Adults are grey on top with a dark crown and two short black stripes. The throat is white, the thighs and under tail coverts are a reddish-brown color, and the rest of the under parts are whitish with black streaks. The younger birds of this species are generally much browner, with scaled upper parts and streaked buffy thighs and under tail coverts. There is currently two subspecies recognized. Subbuteo, where the nominate race resides in Africa, Europe and Central and East Asia. And then there’s Streichi, which is smaller in size and is found further east of subbuteo’s distribution range.
This species breeds across Asia, Europe, and Africa. They are long-distance migrants and spend their winters in Africa and Asia. A bird of open country such as farmland, marshes, taiga, and savannah, they are widespread in lowlands with small scattered woods. Appearing sickle-like in flight with its long pointed wings and square tail, it is an elegant bird of prey. Using its power and speed to its advantage, it will take large insects, like dragonflies, and transfer it back and forth between talons and beak, feasting while flying in small circles. It also hunts small bats and small birds like swallows and swifts.
Barn swallows have a characteristic “hobby” alarm call. This bird is known to harass swallows while they are roosting and dispersing from roosts. When it is not breeding, it is crepuscular, hawking principally during the mornings and evenings. They may move in small groups during migration.
Hobbies nest in old nests previously used by crows and other birds. They only lay 2-4 eggs, and incubation is said to 28 days. Both parents take part in the incubation process, although the female does the greatest part. Being a bold and courageous bird, hobbies were used in falconry. They were trained to hawk birds like quails, larks, hoopoes, and drongos.
Image Caption: The Eurasian Hobby, Falco subbuteo. Credit: Naumann/Wikipedia