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Australian Hobby
Falco longipennis

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Black-faced Hawk, Little Falcon, White-fronted Falcon.

Falco longipennis
click to enlarge
Distribution: Australasian. AUSTRALIA, TASMANIA, and LESSER SUNDAS; winters north to NEW GUINEA, NEW BRITAIN, and MOLUCCA ISLANDS. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. F. l. hanieli: LESSER SUNDAS (Lombok to Timor); F. l. longipennis: AUSTRALIA and TASMANIA; winters north to NEW GUINEA, NEW BRITAIN, and MOLUCCAS. more....

Taxonomy: Forms a superspecies with F. severus and possibly also with F. subbuteo and F. cuvierii. Bildstein and Zalles (2005) suggested that this species may have derived from the Eurasian Hobby as the result "migration dosing," which occurs in areas of misdirected migration, stranding isolated individuals unable to return to their usual breeding grounds.

Movements: Partial migrant, with juveniles dispersing from breeding areas (Bildstein 2006). Juveniles disperse or migrate widely (up to 900 km) after the breeding season (Debus 1998). Some birds migrate to southern New Guinea, but many more overwinter on the Australian mainland (Baker-Gabb and Fitzherbert 1989). Also an altitudinal migrant in some areas.

Habitat and Habits: In Australia, it occurs in open habitats, including open woodland and watercourses, and also vegetated urban areas (Olsen 1995, Debus 1998). The Lesser Sundas race inhabits lightly wooded grassland, open areas, wooded cultivation, and the edges of coastal and lowland monsoon forest and is also sometimes found in the vicinity of towns. Migrants to the Port Moresby area in Papua New Ginea frequent open country, savanna, grasslands, lagoons, and suburbs in the lowlands (Coates 1985). Often hunts at dusk or nocturnally, like other hobbies. Usually solitary (Coates and Bishop 1997, Debus 1998).

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on small birds, insectivorous bats, and large flying insects, which it captures on the wing (Coates and Bishop 1997, Debus 1998). Also forages by still-hunting from a prominent perch, hawks flying insects, and steals mice from the Australian Kestrel (Debus op cit.). Makes dashing flights at about treetop level, frequently changing direction, and doggedly pursuing any birds it may flush (Olsen 1995). It often hunts moths and bats around dusk, and they are eaten on the wing (Olsen op cit.). more....

Breeding: Solitary nester, using an old or usurped stick nest of another species, usually a corvid, located more than 10 m off the ground (Debus 1998). Clutch size is usually 2-3 eggs, occasionally 4. The incubation period is about 35 days, and the nestling period is 34-38 days (Debus op cit.). more....

Conservation: Fairly common in most portions of its range, and the population is probably stable (Debus 1998). Cade estimated the total population size at 10,000 breeding pairs. Olsen (1995) thought that there has possibly been a population increase in urban areas, partly because of an increase in starling populations. Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2007). more....

Important References: 
Cade, T.J. 1982. Falcons of the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
Coates, B.J. 1985. The birds of Papua New Guinea, including the Bismarck
  Archipelago and Bougainville. Vol. I. Non-passerines. Dove Publications,
  Alderley, Queensland, Australia.
Czechura, G.V., and S.J.S. Debus. 1986. The Australian Hobby Falco
: a review. Australian Bird Watcher 11:185-207.
Debus, S.J.S. 1994. Australian Hobby. P. 269 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott,
  and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Debus, S. 1998. The birds of prey of Australia: a field guide. Oxford
  University Press, Melbourne.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Marchant, S., and P. Higgins (eds.). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand,
  and Antarctic birds. Vol. 2. Raptors to lapwings. Oxford University Press,
  Melbourne, Australia.
Olsen, P. 1995. Australian birds of prey. John Hopkins University Press,
  Baltimore, MD.
Wink, M., and H. Sauer-Gürth. 2004. Phylogenetic relationships in diurnal
  raptors based on nucleotide sequences of mitochondrial and nuclear marker
  genes. Pp. 483-498 in R.D. Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors
  worldwide. World Working Group on Birds of Prey, Berlin, and MME/BirdLife
  Hungary, Budapest.

Sites of Interest:
Australian Hobby photos.

Debus, Stephen
Szabo, John

Last modified: 5/25/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2017. Species account: Australian Hobby Falco longipennis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 28 Feb. 2017

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