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Australian Hobby – Falco longipennis Falconidae – The Great Southern – Western Australia

Australian Hobby – Falco longipennis Falconidae – The Great Southern – Western Australia

One of the alternative names for the Australian Australian is the ‘Little Duck Hawk’, which is more than a little misleading. Although Hobbies regularly eat birds, they are not able to kill birds that are bigger than they are, and Hobbies are smaller than most ducks. In fact, it is the similar but larger Peregrine Falcon that often eats ducks, and the Hobby is simply considered by some people to be a smaller version of a Peregrine.

Often seen dashing past, either low to the ground or just above the treetops, the Australian Hobby is often seen hunting in vegetated urban areas, as well as in almost any lightly timbered country. Their flight varies from swift and direct with flickering wing-beats to gliding and soaring, and they regularly catch their food—small birds and insects—in the air. They sometimes eat it on the wing too, or land on a high perch where it can be torn apart. Their call is a shrill chatter.

Description

A medium-sized falcon, the Australian Hobby has long, narrow, pointed, scythe-shaped wings and a long, square-cut tail. It has a generally dark head with a light half-collar that does not extend all the way across the back of its neck. The upperparts are blackish grey, with darker barring on the tail, which also has a fine white tip. The underparts are rufous brown with darker streaks, while the underwing is rufous-brown with buff-coloured spots. The bill is blue-grey near the base and blackish at the tip; the cere (at the very base of the bill) is pale yellow, as are the legs and feet. Young birds generally have darker plumage.

Similar Species

The Peregrine Falcon appears quite similar but is usually larger and more robust, with broader wings that have more rounded tips, and a proportionately shorter, broader tail. The underbody of a Peregrine Falcon is whitish with fine blackish barring (not rufous brown with darker streaks), and in flight, its underwings are greyish white with fine barring, rather than the rufous brown with buff spots of the Hobby. The flight of the Peregrine is characterised by shallow wing-beats, rather than flickering ones.
The wings of a Nankeen Kestrel are shorter, broader and rounder, while its tail is proportionately longer and with a rounded or slightly wedge-shaped tip. Its plumage is quite different, with chestnut upperparts and whitish underparts.

Distribution

The Australian Hobby is widespread throughout mainland Australia as well as in Tasmania.

Habitat

The Australian Hobby mostly inhabits lightly timbered landscapes, especially open forests and woodlands or mosaics of trees and open areas, including wooded farmland, timbered wetlands and well-vegetated suburbs.

Feeding

Hobbies mostly eat small birds, but sometimes also take insects. Their prey is usually caught in mid air, with the hobby swooping down from above, flying out from a prominent perch, or flying quickly—sometimes just above the ground—and taking prey that is unwary or flushed. They also sometimes crash into the foliage of trees to flush out potential prey. They occasionally take prey that has been disturbed by stock or farming machinery, and they often hunt cooperatively.

Breeding

Always using the stick nests of other species—especially crows and ravens, Whistling Kites and Australian Magpies—Australian Hobbies use the nests as they find them, and seldom, if ever, add nesting material to a nest to repair it or reline its interior. They lay 2–4 off-white or pinkish eggs with darker spots or blotches on them. Although both sexes incubate the eggs, incubation is mostly performed by the female Hobby, and may last for about a month.

Source
http://birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/australian-hobby

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