Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Eurasian hobby

Thai: เหยี่ยวฮอบบี้ยุโรป, yiew hobby Europe

Binomial name: Falco subbuteo, Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

The Eurasian hobby (Falco subbuteo), or just simply hobby, is a small slim falcon. It belongs to a rather close-knit group of similar falcons often considered a subgenus Hypotriorchis.

Taxonomy and systematics

The first formal description of the Eurasian hobby was by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae under the present binomial name Falco subbuteo. The genus name falco derives from Late Latin falx, falcis, a sickle, referring to the claws of the bird. The species name subbuteo is from Latin sub, "near to" and buteo, " buzzard" . The species' English name comes from Old French hobé or hobet. It became the trademark for the Subbuteo games company after its creator was refused permission to register "Hobby".

Currently two subspecies are recognized:

  • F. s. subbuteo: the nominate race is resident in Africa, Europe and Central and East Asia, winters in Central and South Africa and South Asia
  • F. s. streichi: described by Hartert and Neumann in 1907, is smaller in size and is found further east of F. s. subbuteos distribution range

Description

Adults are slate-grey above with a dark crown and two short black moustachial stripes. The throat is unstreaked white, thighs and undertail coverts are unstreaked rufous and rest of the underparts are whitish with black streaks. Close views enable the red "trousers" and vent to be seen. Sexes are similar. Juveniles are generally much browner, with scaled upper parts and streaked buffy thighs and undertail coverts.

The hobby has a distinct first-summer plumage.

This falcon is 29 – 36 cm in length with a wingspan of 74 – 84 cm and a weight of 175 – 285 g.

Distribution and status

This species breeds across Africa, Europe and Asia. It is a long-distance migrant, wintering in Africa and Asia.

Behaviour and ecology

It is a bird of open country such as farmland, marshes, taiga and savannah. They are widespread in lowlands with scattered small woods. It is an elegant bird of prey, appearing sickle-like in flight with its long pointed wings and square tail, often resembling a swift when gliding with folded wings. It flies powerfully and fast. It will take large insects, such as dragonflies, which it transfers from talons to beak and eats while soaring slowly in circles. It also captures small bats and small birds like swallows, swifts, pipits etc. in flight. Its speed and aerobatic skills enable it to take swallows and even swifts on the wing, and barn swallows or house martins have a characteristic "hobby" alarm call. It is known to harass swallows while they are roosting and dispersing from roosts. When not breeding, it is crepuscular, hawking principally in the mornings and evenings. While on migration, they may move in small groups.

Hobbies nest in old nests of crows and other birds. The tree selected is most often one in a hedge or on the extreme edge of a spinney, whence the bird can observe intruders from a considerable distance. It lays 2–4 eggs. Incubation is said to take 28 days and both parents share in this duty, though the female does the greater part.

It is a very bold and courageous bird and was used in falconry, trained to hawk birds like quails, larks, hoopoes, drongos, etc.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Falconiformes
Family
Falconidae
Genus
Falco
Species
Falco subbuteo

Common names

  • English:
    • Eurasian hobby
    • European hobby
    • Hobby
  • French: Faucon hobereau
  • Thai: เหยี่ยวฮอบบี้ยุโรป, yiew hobby Europe

Subspecies

  • Falco subbuteo streichi, Ernst Johann Otto Hartert & Oscar Rudolph Neumann, 1907

    Range: Is smaller in size and is found further east of F. s. subbuteos distribution range.

  • Falco subbuteo subbuteo, Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

    Range: The nominate race is resident in Africa, Europe and Central and East Asia, winters in Central and South Africa and South Asia

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Eurasian hobby, Falco subbuteo in Thailand
  • Bang Saphan Noi District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai
  • Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
  • Doi Inthanon National Park
  • Doi Lo District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khon San District, Chaiyaphum
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Khon Kaen District, Khon Kaen
  • Mueang Tak District, Tak
  • Nong Bong Khai Non-hunting Area
  • Phutthamonthon District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Samae San Island

Range map of Falco subbuteo in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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