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6

Australian Hobby

(Falco longipennis)
Alternate name(s): "Little Falcon", "White-fronted Falcon"; misnomer: "Duck-hawk*"
Aboriginal name(s): "wowo", "ngowerngo"

Size: 30-32 cm (male), 34-35.5 cm (female); wing span 65-85 cm

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Australian Hobby at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

Full-frontal view of an adult Australian Hobby perched in a flowering ironbark eucalypt
[Narrabri Lake, Narrabri, NSW, July 2014]

Frontal view of an Australian Hobby; note the blue tint on the eye-ring and cere - this is visible in several photos and most unlikely to be a reflection of blue light from the sky
[February 2009]

Near-frontal view of an Australian Hobby perched in a flowering ironbark eucalypt
[Narrabri Lake, Narrabri, NSW, July 2014]

Near-lateral view of an Australian Hobby perched in a flowering ironbark eucalypt
[Narrabri Lake, Narrabri, NSW, July 2014]

Lateral view of an Australian Hobby
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2011]

Here the same Australian Hobby as above seen preening; note how it maintains balance while working behind its wing
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2011]

Lateral view of an Australian Hobby (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Near Tooraweenah, NSW, June 2012]

Two Australian Hobbies high up in a treetop
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2011]

Australian Hobby defending its perch against a somewhat perplexed-looking Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2016]

Australian Hobby diving off its perch towards the observer
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2016]

Adult Australian Hobby in flight, seen from underneath
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, July 2013]

Lateral view of an Australian Hobby in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2011]

Lateral view of an Australian Hobby in flight (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)]
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, February 2015]

Lateral view of an Australian Hobby struggling to gain altitude (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, February 2015]

Dorsal view of an Australian Hobby in flight
[Narrabri Lake, Narrabri, NSW, July 2014]

Dorsal view of an Australian Hobby being hustled by a combative Galah (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, February 2015]

Partly obscured, here an Australian Hobby seen landing
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2011]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Full-frontal view of an immature Australian Hobby; note the unusual foothold (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ivanhoe Crossing, Kununurra, WA, January 2016]

Frontal view of an immature Australian Hobby; this is the bird whose calls were recorded on 23 April 2015
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2015]

Immature Australian Hobby in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2011]

Juvenile Australian Hobby on a power line, frontal view
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2005]

Juvenile Australian Hobby on a power line, lateral view
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2005]

Near-dorsal view of a juvenile Australian Hobby (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lake Wugu Nugu (Nuga Nuga) NP, near Rollaston, QLD , April 2013]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Nov Eggs: 2 - 4 Incubation period: ca. 30(?) days Fledging age: 35 - 38 days

The breeding season of Australian Hobbies depends on geographical latitude. In the northern tropics they can breed between July and November, while in the southern half of the continent, their core breeding season is as stated in the table above (breeding in August and December can also occur).

Nest building: N/A Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female & male

Like many falcon species, Australian Hobbies usually re-use a nest by another species, i.e. either another raptor or a corvid (raven or crow).

The male does all the hunting while the female incubates and for a week or more after hatching. Only when he has delivered food and she is feeding nearby, the male will incubate.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks Height above ground: 10 - 20 m

Usually a nest in the upper canopy of a live tree is chosen.

Australian Hobby nest high up in the canopy of a live eucalypt tree (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Coonamble, NSW, October 2016]

Here one of the owners of the Australian Hobby nest, who is obscured in the photo above (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Coonamble, NSW, October 2016]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 44 x 33 mm Colour: Greyish, with copious rufous/brown small speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Pair

Observing a family of Australian Hobbies at Narrabri Lake, we noticed how very demanding the young are. They meet their parents in the air near the tree with the nesting hollow to "intercept" them when delivering food. This is accompanied by with raucous calls, both in the air and when landing.

An immature bird observed by us in 2005 was still practicing its skills. When hunting a Red-rumped Parrot, it forgot to flap its wings to maintain airlift, which led to a sudden drop in altitude, right into a bucket standing next to our chook pen. With its wingtips sticking out of the bucket, the bird had to topple the bucket first before getting out again. Displayed above are happier times, when it was sitting on our power line.

Falcons, including Australian Hobbies, often hunt from vantage points, diving down a hill slope to accelerate; in this photo the raptor is hardly visible, right at the top of the dead tree on the hill crest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2013]

Additional information

There is a separate page on two Australian Hobbies hunting from a treetop and being hustled by other bird species.

Food, Diet

Adults: Birds, bats, insects Dependents: As adults Water intake: None

All raptors are carnivores. Australian Hobbies prey on smaller birds, which they take in flight.

During the first few weeks, raptors feed their chicks with pieces of meat. Later on in their development, the chicks learn to tear apart their parents' prey.

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

ozhobby_20150423_1.mp3 (NSW NSW) Annoyed (immature) © MD
ozhobby_20150423_2.mp3 (NSW NSW) ? (immature) © MD
ozhobby_20150423_3.mp3 (NSW NSW) ? (immature) © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.