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Order Falcons/Falconiformes, Family Falcons/Falconidae

Eurasian Hobby/Falco subbuteo - Adult

L 29-35 cm, WS 70-84 cm. Summer visitor (Apr/May- Sep), winters in Africa. Breeds in variety of habitats: arable land with lakes and woods; bogs and rivers in taiga; mountain forests. In Britain scarce, < 500 pairs. Food insects and birds, caught in the air by supreme velocity in chase or stoop. Nests in tree, using abandoned nest of other bird, often crow.
IDENTIFICATION: Medium-sized, elegant falcon with long, pointed wings and medium-length, square-cut tail. Dashing flight, and ability to catch birds in the air (incl. Swallows and even Swifts), generally causes alarm when Hobby appears; often seen in low, fast flight over reedbeds or marshes, wingbeats powerful, somewhat spaced, clipping. When catching dragonflies at the height of summer flight is more relaxed, with short accelerations and turns; prey then eaten in the air during brief glide. Silhouette often typical, with quite pointed wings when long primaries are flexed back, but at times wing-tips appear more blunt, recalling Red-footed Falcon (which has only a trifle longer tail and shorter wings, and thus might be mistaken for male Hobby at a distance). At normal range, adult looks dark grey above and darkish below with white throat; at closer range rusty-red ‘trousers’ and vent show, as does bold streaking of breast and belly, and black moustachial stripe. In the Mediterranean area, Eleonormale's Falcon is a potential confusion risk, too, but is slightly larger and has proportionately somewhat longer tail. Also, Hobby has more uniform wings and tail below. - Juvenile: Differs from adult in lack of red ‘trousers’ and vent (still lacking in 1st summer), having pale tips to upper primary and greater coverts, paler forehead, browner cast on upperparts, and yellowish-buff (instead of whitish) underparts.
VOICE: Main call a scolding ‘kew-kew-kew-kew-‘ not unlike song of Wryneck but with less whining, pleading ring; considerable variations in tempo. Also, repeated, agitated, sharp ‘kit-chic’ from both sexes in air; single sharp ‘kit’ Begging-call drawn-out, urging ‘peee-eh’ recalling Merlin (but different from vibrant trill of Kestrel).

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