HOBBY. Falco subbuteo
'The Young man's Falcon'
IDENTIFICATION. Similar in looks to a Swift or a small Peregrine Falcon. The back is slate grey and the head has the distinct black moustache on white cheeks. The white feathering of the cheek merge on the upper breast giving a white 'bib' affect. The under wing and body is streaked with dark feathers on light. The lower abdomen is marked with the distinctive rust red flash.
Occasionally mistaken for a Peregrine Falcon.
IN FLIGHT. A fast agile flier that is capable of catching Swifts. When looking for prey the Hobby will soar using warm updrafts to circle into the air and wing flaps to remain buoyant. When a potential meal is spotted the Hobby will either stoop onto it, or chase it using its impressive aerial skills. Large insects are generally plucked from the air with its talons.
DISTRIBUTION. The Hobby is a migratory bird, coming to this country from Africa in the summer months. .
WHEN SEEN. A summer visitor, with a few pairs over wintering in the South West of England.
FOOD. Mainly flying insects such as Dragonflies or Craneflies. Small birds are also taken including Swifts, Swallows and martins.
BREEDING. May- June. 2 to 3 reddish spotted eggs laid in an abandoned nest. Young hatch after 4 weeks, flying 1 month later.
SIZE. 30-36cm (12-14in)
The male Hobby is known as a 'Robin’, due to the red flash on the underside.
A fantastic hunting bird if you want to catch Dragonflies or the odd House Martin. Saying that I do know of people who have flown them at small birds and even Partridge. Their dashing fast flight is certainly impressive, but they are probably best left.
NB. Licenses are required to fly raptors at certain species of birds. Game licences are obtainable from the Post Office. Other licences come from DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs). If you buy one of these raptors it should be fitted with a closed leg ring and have an Article 10 form with it (any queries check with DEFRA).