A small but swift and agile hobby falcon, like a miniature falcon. In his appearance, the falcon nobility and predatory nature are immediately traced. A deep, sharp-sighted, bird-like gaze captivates and intrigues, and a beautiful swift flight gives a feeling of freedom and weightlessness. Let's study this amazing feathered person in more detail, describing her appearance, character, lifestyle and favorite places of deployment.
View origin and description
Hobby is a feathered predator from the falcon family, belonging to the order of falconiformes and the genus of falcons. Outwardly, the hobby is very similar to the falcon, but in a reduced size. There are several similar varieties belonging to the same genus, which have the word “hobby” in their names, they are even combined into a separate group called Hypotriorchis. Among the common characteristics of this group, one can single out the dark gray color of the plumage, the presence of black “whiskers” and streaks on the ventral part, which are located along the body.
The first to describe this species of birds was the Swedish scientist, physician and naturalist Carl Linnaeus, this happened in 1758. The name of the genus “falcons” in Latin sounds like “falco” and in translation means “sickle”, which is directly related to the curved claws of all falcons. The meaning of the word “cheglok” is still not fully understood. Employees of the Moscow Pedagogical State University believe that the name of the bird comes from the Old Russian “chegl”, which means “genuine, primordial.”
There is an assumption that this meaning indicates that this bird is classified as a hunting falcon bird – the gyrfalcon, peregrine falcons, which are characterized by smaller dimensions compared to falcons. Hobbies, thus, are opposed to such medium-sized falcons as the red-footed falcon and kestrel, which were not previously used for hunting.
Hobby is a tireless hunter and predator of noble blood. It is easy to confuse it with a peregrine falcon, the differences are in size (the peregrine falcon is larger), longitudinal streaks on the belly (in the peregrine falcon they are transverse) and a reddish tint to the limbs. Hobby males are slightly smaller than females, their weight varies from 160 to 200 grams, and body length is from 32 to 35 cm. Female individuals weigh from 230 to 250 grams and have a length of 33 to 37 cm.
Appearance and Features
The head of the Hobby is neat, has a rounded shape, sharp-sighted, large, round, expressive dark brown eyes are clearly visible on it. The bird's beak cannot be called powerful, it is medium-sized. Feathered tarsals are also small, covered with feathers on top. Paws are equipped with thin, but extended and tenacious fingers. In general, the hobby looks rather elegant, it is distinguished by long wings protruding beyond the tip of the tail. And his tail is long and has the shape of a wedge.
The color of the plumage of the Hobby is variable, it depends on its age. Male and female individuals are almost identical in appearance, so it is not easy to distinguish them. In infancy, a white tint predominates, which persists in chicks until two weeks of age. Then specks of gray appear in the attire and an ocher tone in the abdomen. Closer to the month, the color becomes more pronounced. Brown feathers are indicated on the back, shades of ocher color predominate in the head area and on the abdominal part, only a longitudinal pattern is visible on the belly. The beak is greyish-black with a bluish tinge at the base. On the pale yellow paws, hook-shaped dark-colored claws can be seen.
Interesting fact: In the second year of life, the bird costume has a brown top, the gray tones in it gradually disappear, the undertail and lower leg area become same color as mature birds.
It should be noted that when worn, a certain bluish tone disappears in the feather color of the hobby. Whitish streaks stand out on the back of the head and neck of the bird. The mustache imitation is painted black (dark stripes under the eyes). On the sides, on the chest and belly, the feathers are white with oblong wide streaks of dark shades. In the area of the undertail and shins, a redhead appears. It seems that the Hobby has put on red trousers. The female has brown specks against a red background, which are also on the inner side of the wings.
Where does the Hobby live?
The Hobby has taken a fancy to Eurasia and North Africa, occupying rather vast areas there.
It should be noted that this feathered bird is found on almost all continents, the bird inhabited:
- Kuril and British Islands;
- Asia Minor;
Cheglok prefers light forests, giving way to open steppe areas suitable for hunting. He equips his nesting sites in almost the entire forest area of the former Soviet Union, with the exception of the northern part of the taiga. This bird bypasses South Asia, the tropical forests of western Africa, China and India.
Interesting fact: Hobbies nest in sparse forests, preferring to live either in mixed massifs or in high ones, old, pine forests.
Hobby does not like both completely open areas and dense impassable thickets. He can choose the forest edge, the river bank, the outskirts of the wetlands. The facts of the settlement of this bird near human dwellings are known, but this is a rarity, the bird prefers to avoid close contact with people, maintaining neutrality. In the mountainous area, you can also meet the Hobby, which climbs up to 4 km in height, where it feels great. If we talk about the varieties of these birds, then we can note their habitat, which is characteristic of each species.
Scientists have identified only a couple of subspecies of the hobby, these are:
- falco subbuteo subbuteo Linnaeus, inhabiting Europe, the northwest of the African continent and all parts of Asia except southeast. This subspecies is considered migratory, for wintering it chooses South Asia and Central and South Africa;
- falco subbuteo streichi Hartert und Neumann, living in Southeast Asia, is a sedentary subspecies.
Now you know where the Hobby lives. Let's see what this bird of prey eats.
What does the hobby bird eat?
Cheglok is a dexterous and tireless hunter, making swift aerial attacks. Its menu is dominated by small birds and large-sized insects. As for insects, the hobby can have a bite to eat with various beetles, butterflies, dragonflies. Common sparrows, starlings, wagtails often become bird victims of the hobby. The feathered predator often settles near the nesting sites of black swifts and swallows, which it also likes to eat for a snack.
Hobbies conduct their vigilant hunting from the evening hours, when twilight is approaching, so he often comes across bats, which also become an excellent dinner. A virtuoso predator catches its prey during a fast and well-coordinated flight, grabbing it right in the air. He is very skillful, stubborn and impetuous, therefore he is able to catch up with any snack that interests him.
If the prey, by the standards of the hobby, is quite weighty, then it carries it to a nearby tree, where its meal takes place in the branches. The predator swallows insects in flight. Sometimes small rodents and lizards slip into the hobby's diet, but such prey can be called purely random, because. hunting is carried out in the air, because it is very difficult for a bird to catch ground prey.
Character and lifestyle features
Hobbies can be called very mobile, active and restless. In addition, he has a very cool, cocky and stubborn disposition. He dislikes any other birds, even his closest relatives. His aggression is not due to the fact that there is little food, he just has such a fighting and not very friendly character. Birds flying up to the nesting place of the Hobby will definitely not be in trouble.
An interesting fact: Having spotted another bird nearby, the hobby bird immediately starts a fight with it. Small birds are immediately considered by the hobbyist as a snack. Of course, it will not be possible to catch everyone, but he will make colossal efforts for this.
A stern piercing look and an angry “mustache” make the appearance of the Hobby slightly threatening and very serious. Hobby, settled near gardens and cultivated land, renders a great service to people by eating small birds that peck at crops. Feathered gives himself a territory for hunting, which he jealously protects from any uninvited flying guests. Usually there is a neutral zone between the allotments of the Hobbies. Hunting takes place in complete solitude at a considerable height. The flight of the Hobby is swift and agile, quick wing beats are replaced by smooth gliding movements. It should be noted that soaring is not characteristic of these birds; in flight, the spread wings of the hobby resemble a sickle.
Ornithologists have established that nature has endowed Hobbies with extraordinary vigilance, so any insect within two hundred meters will not hide from a predator. You can’t call a Hobby a talker, on the contrary, it is very silent. Only his excessive anxiety is sometimes accompanied by a rather sharp, staccato and deafening cry, typical of the entire falcon family.
Social structure and reproduction
The wedding season for Hobbies falls on the end of April – the beginning of May. In this turbulent time for birds, you can notice the circling of feathered couples in the air, where they perform various tricks and maneuvers. During such romantic dances, caring Hobbies can treat each other right in flight, so they express their disposition and sympathy for a partner.
Hobbies do not build their nests, they lay their eggs in the empty nests of other birds, and sometimes unceremoniously evict birds from the place they like. Hobbies look for nests located high from the ground.
The process of choosing a nest is quite scrupulous, for this a number of factors are taken into account:
- the presence of a nearby water source (river, stream);
- locating in a nesting area of a wooded thicket;
- locating nearby open spaces of fields or meadows necessary for hunting.
A family pair of Hobbies carefully guards the chosen territory from other birds, surveying it from a nest located at a high altitude (from 10 to 30 meters). The female begins the process of laying eggs either at the very end of May or in July, it all depends on the ambient temperature. In the nest, there can be from three to six eggs, the sizes of which vary from 3 to 3.6 cm. The incubation period lasts within one month. The female all this time warms the eggs with her body, and the future father brings her food.
Newborn chicks do not look like their parents, they are covered with a rare layer of white fluff, so they need maternal warmth at first, the father has to hunt alone, feeding both the children, and the partner, and himself. Babies quickly grow up, get stronger and gain weight. Soon they experience the first process of molting and already at the age of one month they start independent flights. At first, young animals lack dexterity and agility, so caring ancestors feed them all the time.
Throughout the summer period, Hobbies live as a friendly large family. Only with the advent of autumn, matured youth set off towards adulthood, leaving their nests and rushing to winter quarters. It is worth adding that Hobbies can be considered feathered centenarians, because nature has endowed them with a considerable life span of 17 to 20 years, but this is not the limit. Information is known about Hobbies that have lived for a quarter of a century.
Natural enemies of Hobbies
Despite the fact that the Hobby is a medium-sized bird, it has practically no enemies in the wild. Apparently, this happens for several reasons. Firstly, the bird is almost always out of reach, its nesting site is located very high, and the hobby itself is based in the air for a large amount of time.
Secondly, we should not forget that this is, first of all, , a predator and nature, he has a bold and purposeful. Thirdly, the character of the Hobby is not a gift. His impudent, cocky and unfriendly disposition scares off many ill-wishers. Fourthly, one should not underestimate the resourcefulness, swiftness, excessive activity and dexterity of this bird.
Interesting fact: Hobbyists use trains as assistants in their hunting. The speed of their flight can exceed the moving train. Flying after him, the hobby bird catches birds, which the rumble of the train makes them rise from secluded places.
In the paws of any ill-wishers, most often, there are weakened by the disease, very elderly birds or inexperienced young. Hobbies keep neutrality with people, preferring not to come into close contact. But a person, nevertheless, can be considered an enemy of this proud bird, because it indirectly affects its life when it invades places of permanent deployment, displaces birds from inhabited territories, conducts endless economic activities, cuts down forests, worsens the ecological situation in general. All these actions adversely affect the life of the Hobby, as well as any other representatives of the wild fauna.
Population and species status
The capricious and independent Hobby inhabits various states and continents, during wintering it makes long migrations. The bird can be found in the vast African continent, Asia and Europe. Fortunately, at this point in time, the population of this amazing feathered predator is not in danger, its numbers remain stable and at a fairly high level. There is reliable evidence that the number of the Hobby is three million pairs, so this species of falcon does not need special protection measures and is not listed in the Red Book.
Of course, there are negative anthropogenic impacts that adversely affect the life of these birds of prey. The main ones are the reduction of places of permanent deployment of birds in connection with various human activities: the construction of cities, the laying of highways, the occupation of land for agricultural purposes, deforestation, pollution of the natural habitat of birds. All this has a bad effect, but it does not have a strong impact on the size of the Hobby population, there are still many of them, which cannot but rejoice. The main thing is that in the future the population of these falcons does not experience any extreme threats that lead it to the line of extinction.
In conclusion, I would like to add that the hobby is very independent, fast and courageous, it was not in vain that it was used before, as a bird of prey when hunting quails, hoopoes, larks. Hobby is successfully trained and trained, which means that he is very smart and quick-witted, and his restless and quick-tempered temper only helps in the hunting process. In general, this predator brings considerable benefits, settling near cultivated lands, because it eats a large number of small birds that cause great damage to the crop.