Australian Hobby (Falco longipennis)

Australian Hobby

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Falco longipennis | [authority] Swainson, 1837 | [UK] Australian Hobby | [FR] Petit Faucon | [DE] Australischer Baumfalke | [ES] Alcotan Australiano | [NL] Australische Boomvalk


Monotypic species


Members of the genus falco are mostly medium-sized falcons, but vary from the large peregrine falcon to the small American kestrel. The wings are long and pointed and used almost continuously during flight. The bill is short, powerful, and with a distinct ‘tooth’ on each side. Most falcons of this group have a black teardrop-shaped ‘mustache’ mark on each side of the head. Falcons are fastflying birds of open country and are famous for attaining high speeds as they dive from high altitudes to knock birds out of the air.

Physical charateristics

Small and very longwinged for its size, with notably swift flight. The dark grey back and whitish throat contrasting with rufous breast are distinctive at rest. In flight the wings appear dark, with rufous barring below. In Australia it should not be confused with anything else, but in New Guinea where it occurs as a migrant it could be confused with the oriental Hobby (Falco severus) from which it can be distinguished by the paler under side. Immatures of these two species would be very difficult to distinguish.

wingspan min.: 70 cm wingspan max.: 90 cm
size min.: 30 cm size max.: 36 cm
incubation min.: 30 days incubation max.: 35 days
fledging min.: 40 days fledging max.: 45 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Australasia : widespread. The Australian Hobby can be found throughout mainland Australia and in the northern and eastern areas of Tasmania.


It is most usually to be found in wooded country, preferably humid, but may occur also in semi-desert.


The Australian Hobby breeds in the nests of other birds, fisrt relining them with soft bark. The nests chosen are high in big trees, 60-70 feet up, and any suitably sized nest will do. The nests are taken over when unoccupied or deserted, and the rightful owner is not apparently evicted. Two or three eggs are laid in September to October. The female incubates the eggs and will feed the hatchlings while the male hunts for food. When food is caught he will call the female off the nest to transfer food, either passing food to her mid air or in a nearby tree, which she will then take back to the nest to be plucked, dismembered and fed to the young. Brooding of young ceases when pin feathers emerge and both adults will drop food in the nest, leaving the young to take possession of the food and feed themselves. Breeding is from September to November in the southern parts of Australia. Two or three, occasionally four, eggs are laid. Incubation is around 30 days and young fledge in five weeks. Most young survive and fledge successfully.

Feeding habits

The Australian Hobby’s diet consists mainly of small birds up to the size of a quail, occasionally parakeets or pigeons. They also eat large insects and bats when disturbed in daylight, but not apparently hawked in the dusk. In play it will stoop at much larger birds such as bustards and herons, but it is not able to overcome birds of this size. It has many of the habits of other hobbies, flying with quick wingbeats, soaring, and occasionally hovering clumsily. It perches and roosts in trees. It seems to be less crepuscular in its habits than some of its relatives. When in pursuit of birds it is very quick and bold, and will make a kill close to human beings. It makes its kill by a very swift stoop, often low over the ground, and may take a bird in each foot from a flock. It seems more likely to kill birds than do some other hobbies.

Video Australian Hobby


copyright: Nick Talbot


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Australian Hobby status Least Concern


Resident and partly migratory populations. Birds breeding at high latitudes and altitudes winter in coastal and lowland areas; many migrate N, some (mostly females) reaching New Guinea, New Britain and E Indonesia.

Distribution map

Australian Hobby distribution range map

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