Hobby

Hobby

Key facts

Scientific name: Falco subbuteo

Status: Breeding summer visitor 

Breeding birds: 2,800 pairs

Conservation status: Green

Length: 29 – 36 cm

Wingspan: 74 – 84 cm

Weight: 130 – 235 g (M) 140 – 340 g (F)

Description

Adult male hobbies have slate-grey upperparts and pale underparts that are streaked with black. Their thighs and undertail coverts are rust coloured and they have heavily barred and spotted underwings and undertails. Their wings are pointed and they have a fairly short tail.

Hobbies have dark heads with white cheeks, chins, throats, and sides of the neck and have black moustaches and ear coverts. Their hooked bills are black with yellow ceres. They have dark brown eyes with yellow eye rings and narrow white eyebrows. Their legs and feet are orange-yellow.

Males and females look similar but females are slightly larger.

Juvenile hobbies have browner upperparts with pale edges on the feathers. Their undertail coverts and thighs are buff and their crowns are pale. They have a narrow terminal bar on their tails.

Breeding

Hobbies breed fairly late in June or July. They are solitary nesters and do not build nests but use the abandoned nests of crows and other raptors. They do not add any additional material to the nest.

Hobbies lay 2-3 pale brown eggs with darker markings which are incubated by the female alone for 28-31 days. The male feeds her while she is on the nest.

Chicks are fed by both parents and leave the nest 28-34 days after hatching but still depend on their parents for another 5 weeks.

Feeding

Hobbies prey on small birds including skylarks, starlings, sparrows, and other small songbirds. They are able to catch swallows, swifts, and martins on the wing. They will also eat large insects.

Hobby

Where to see them

Hobbies can be seen in the UK between April and October. They are found across most of England, southern Scotland, and South Wales. 

Look out for them hunting over woodland and heathland as well as gravel pits where there is plenty of food. 

Listen

Stanislas Wroza/xeno-canto

Did you know?

The tabletop football game Subbuteo was named after the hobby after the trademark office refused his application to call it ‘Hobby’. 

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