Flight ID Materclass Hobby Falco Subbuteo

The Birder's Market | Resource | Birds of Britain and Europe ID Guide | Birds of Prey | Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo | Identification of Eurasian Hobby |  Flight ID Materclass Hobby Falco Subbuteo

Hobby Falco subbuteo photographed by John Lamper
Flight identification of the Hobby

Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
Length 29 - 32cm Wing span 74 - 84cm


Roughly the size of a Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, the hobby can usually be found hunting above it's prefered habitat of wetlands and heath where it will actively pursue it's favoured diet of dragonflies,catching them on the wing and consuming them in flight (pics 1,2,3 & 4 right).Pictures courtesy of Mark Putney.
It also favoures areas which attract large numbers of hirrundines (swallows, martins and swifts) and will pursue this prey sometimes high above the ground or after a high speed determined low level chase.The photograph above www.johnlamper.co.uk shows the typical, and 'out of the blue' low level dashing flight of a hunting hobby, and it's preference for open ground.

Unlike the kestrel, the hobby does not 'hover' whilst hunting and can often be seen high in the air soaring for long periods where they often gives the immediate impression of a large swift due to it's characteristic and often described 'scythe-like wings' which become obvious as the bird dives (beautifully captured in photograph 5 John Lamper).Flies with powerful, 'stiff' wing beats.Other confusion species are peregrine (which are larger and 'more chunky' in appearance, with a heavier body and broader wings). and red-footed falcon Falco vespertinus, which will be covered at a later date.A closer view will reveal the characteristic and distinctive head pattern with thin black 'moustache', heavy black streaks to the underbody and rusty red vent,undertail and 'trousers'.

Flight identification of the Hobby



The Hobby's distribution has spread markedly northwards in England since the 1970s (Gibbons et al. 1993), perhaps linked to increases in its dragonfly prey (Prince & Clarke 1993) and a decreasing dependency on its traditional heathland habitat, but the reasons underlying the Hobby's increase are still only speculative (Clements 2001).

BTO
Hobby diving
Hobby.Pic Rupert Pye
Flight silhouette of the three falcons for comparison

Flight silhouette of the three falcons for comparison

Hobby.Pic Ray Scott
Hobby Falco subbuteo

The Birder's Market | Resource | Birds of Britain and Europe ID Guide | Birds of Prey | Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo | Identification of Eurasian Hobby |  Flight ID Materclass Hobby Falco Subbuteo

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