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Eurasian Hobby
Falco subbuteo

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: European Hobby, Hobby, Northern Hobby.

Falco subbuteo
click to enlarge
Distribution: Afrotropical/Indomalayan/Palearctic. Europe, including the British Isles, from southern NORWAY and SWEDEN east across the whole of Eurasia to the Sea of Okhotsk and KAMCHATKA PENINSULA south to northwestern Africa and northern Middle East, east through INDIA, NEPAL and southern CHINA, SAKHALIN ISLAND, and JAPAN; winters in western and southern Africa, northern Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. F. s. streichi: Southern and eastern CHINA; possibly also in northern and eastern MYANMAR and northern Indochina; F. s. subbuteo: Northwestern Africa and Europe east through central Asia to RUSSIAN FAR EAST and northern CHINA to KAMCHATKA, SAKHALIN and northern JAPAN; winters in western, central, and southern Africa and southern Asia. more....

Taxonomy: Based on an analysis of nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, Siebold et al. (1993) and Wink and Ristow (2000) found that this species forms a monophyletic clade with the Sooty Falcon (F. concolor) and Eleonora's Falcon (F. eleonorae). These species and other "hobbies" belong to the subgenus Hypotriorchis and represent a clade that is paraphyletic to the peregrine complex (Seibold et al. 1993). The Australian Hobby (F. longipennis), African Hobby (F. cuvierii), and the Orange-breasted Falcon (F. deiroleucus) are also part of this assemblage and cluster at its base. The Red-footed Falcon (F. vespertinus) and Amur Falcon (F. amurensis) form a sister group to the hobbies (Wink and Ristow 2000). more....

Movements: Complete long distance, trans-equatorial migrant (Bildstein 2006). Wintering birds arrive in southern Africa from early October onward and depart in late March or early April. Within the wintering range, there are movements associated with rainfall and thus food availability. Breeding birds arrive back in England between late April to early June, and most depart for the wintering range in late September and early October (Brown and Grice 2005). more....

Habitat and Habits: Breeds in open country with patches of forest, including pine forests, and increasingly in lowland farmland areas with patches of trees. In Asia, it also nests in urban areas with wooded parks, usually near water (Brazil 2009). In migration, it may occur in almost any climate or habitat, but is most conspicous over grasslands and thorn scrub. On its winter range in south-central Africa, it favors moister woodland habitats. It perches during the day in the foliage of large trees, where it is hard to see, and is most active at dawn and dusk. Usually encountered singly, but flocks of up to a hundred to several hundred birds may occur in the winter range in the vicinity of good food sources (e.g., termite swarms), or in migration. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on birds, but also takes flying insects (including dragonflies) and bats. In the African wintering range, it hawks for alate termites and locusts in open areas. Rarely hovers, and most prey items are caught on the wing. more....

Breeding: Nests during May and June throughout much of its range. Usually uses the old nests of a crow or raven placed high in a tall tree, or on an electricity pylon. The female does most of the incubation, and the male provides food to her and to the young. Clutch size is 3-4 eggs. more....

Conservation: Widespread throughout the Palearctic, although it is not particularly common in most areas. It is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, an area which accounts for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. The European breeding population was stable between 1970-1990. There were declines in certain countries, mostly Germany and Finland, during 1990-2000, but populations were stable or increased elsewhere. The Eurasian Hobby was evaluated as "Secure" in Europe by BirdLife International (2004) and considered to be a species of "Least Concern" globally by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: The European population was estimated at 65,000 to 120,000 breeding pairs by BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council (2000) and later at 71,000 to 120,000 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). more....

Important References: 
BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council. 2000. European bird
  populations: estimates and trends. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 10.
  BirdLife International,Cambridge, UK.
Bjilsma, R.G. 1980. De Boomvalk. Kosmos, Utrecht/Antwerpen, Netherlands.
Brown, L. 1976. The British birds of prey. Collins, London.
Cade, T.J. 1982. Falcons of the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
Chapman, A. 1999. The hobby. Arlequin Press, Chelmsford, UK.
Cramp, S., and J.E.I. Simmons (eds.). 1980. Handbook of the birds of
  Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Vol. 2. Oxford University Press,
  Oxford, UK.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Fiuczynski, D. 1978. [On the population ecology of the Eurasian Hobby
  (Falco subbuteo L., 1758). Zoologische Jahrbücher Systematik 105:193-257.
  (In German)
Fiuczynski, D. 1995. Der Baumfalke Falco subbuteo Neue Brehm-Bücherei no.
  575. Ziemsen Verlag, Wittenberg, Germany. (In German)
Fiuczynski, D., and D. Nethersole-Thompson. 1980. Hobby studies in
  England and Germany. British Birds 73:275-295.
Glutz von Blotzheim, U.N., K.M. Bauer, and E. Bezzel (eds.). 1971.
  Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas. Band 4. Falconiformes. Akademische
  Verlagsgesellschaft, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Mendelsohn, J.M. 1997. Hobby Falcon. Pp. 252-253 in J.A. Harrison et al.
  (eds.), The atlas of South African birds. Volume 1: Non-passerines. BirdLife
  South Africa and Avian Demography Unit, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Orta, J. 1994. Eurasian Hobby. Pp. 268 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.
Seibold, I., A.J. Helbig, and M. Wink. 1993. Molecular systematics of
  falcons (family Falconidae). Naturwissenschaften 80:87-90.

Sites of Interest:
Eurasian Hobby photos.
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations.

Fiuczynski, Klaus Dietrich
Koskimies, Pertti
Saharudin, Muhd Hakim
Sergio, Fabrizio
Sutton, Luke
Zuberogoitia, Iñigo

Last modified: 11/3/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 21 Oct. 2021

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