Eurasian Hobby / Falco subbuteo / شويهين

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Status: Uncommon

Systematic (order, family): Falconiformes, Falconidae

Description: A very shy and elusive medium-sized falcon specializing in hunting insects, birds and bats in flight.

Distribution in the country and worldwide: Breeds from Western Europe, through Central Asia to the Pacific Coast. It winters in south-east Asia and South Africa.

In Palestine the Hobby breeds in the Mediterranean region. It's a fairly common breeder throughout the country. They leave in October to Africa..

Conservation status: Least Concern

Habitat: Although it needs areas of woodland and forest to breed, the hobby hunts over open areas preferring a variety of habitats such as arable fields, bogs, marshland, moorland and heathland.

Identification (how does it look like): A stunning bird when close up showing off its red trousers and vent. Wings are very long. Sexes are similar with dark blue-grey back and wings and top of head. Face is white with dark moustachial stripe. Underside is whitish with bold dark streaks. Red trousers and vent can only be seen in adults. Juvenile is a browner than adults with buffy tips to feathers and yellowish underside. Flight is fast and it dives occasionally towards its prey.

Behaviour: Breeding is done in old Crows nests. Eats birds that it catches in flight.

Weight and size: Body length: 29-32cm. Wingspan: 70-84cm. Weight: 130-320g

Threats and hazards: The global population of the hobby is in decline as a result of deforestation in Eastern Europe and northern Asia. Hunting (mainly in the Mediterranean) is a large concern killing around a thousand birds per year. The establishment of obstacles such as wind turbines along migration routes cause fatalities each year.

Similar species not to be confuse with: Eleonora’s falcon can be confused at a distance but has longer wings and a longer tail.

Cool facts: The hobby is different from other falcons as it will utilize abandoned Crow's nest in trees to lay their eggs. Most other falcons will lay their eggs on to natural surfaces such as in tree crevices or a scrape on a cliff face.