Falco Subbuteo larger than Merlin and similar to Kestrel, but with shorter tail. ) up to 10% larger than (, with broader wings. Rather slight, elegant, long-winged falcon, with remarkable speed in often high, aerobatic pursuit of flying prey; can recall swift in outline and flight action. Plumage rather dark, with heavily streaked underbody; combination of pale cream throat and cheeks with rufous thighs and undertail diagnostic. Most often confused with juvenile and 1st-summer. In northern parts of range, confusion with Peregrine possible but much slighter build, looser flight action, underpart pattern, and shorter, often slightly wedge-shaped tail of Hobby usually noticeable. For distinctions from pale-morph Eleonora‘s Falcon, . Flight always graceful but action variable. When hunting birds, action fast and regular, with stiff wing-beats; flight interspersed with frequent short glides and ending in lightning stoop (with wings almost closed) or rapid chase of prey (with wings then directed backwards and wing-beats extremely fluid); when hunting flying insects, action slower, with flatter wing-beats and allowing aerial capture and eating of prey. Soars on outstretched, flat wings, with tail (normally kept closed) well open; rarely hovers (unlike Red-footed Falcon). When perched, adopts upright posture and wing-tips reach end of short tail.

Eurasian Hobby subbuteo is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, which accounts for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is relatively small (120,000 pairs), but was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in certain countries-most notably Germany and Finland-during 1990-2000, populations were stable or increased elsewhere in Europe, and the species probably remained stable overall.

Among smaller west Palearctic Falco, only Kestrel spans broader band of latitude, but presence limited to little more than one-third of the year through its high dependence on aerial insect prey, abundant only during the warmer months. Although ranging on occasion almost to tree-limit, northward through taiga even beyond Arctic Circle, and in Asia up to 3050 m in mountain forests, mainly a lowland species, tending to avoid coastlines and islands, extensive wetlands, steppes, deserts, and all kinds of open treeless country. Extensive dense forests, narrow alpine valleys, and sunless rainy or misty regions such as moorlands on the oceanic fringe also shunned. Preferred habitats usually warm, biologically rich enough to sustain plenty of large flying insects, with ample open expanses of low vegetation completed by clumps, groves, or lines of tall trees, or fringed by mature woodland with clearings, glades, or slopes affording relatively inaccessible nest-sites with unobstructed view. Lack of gregariousness while breeding, and readiness when necessary to hunt far from nest, enables areas of low prey biomass to be occupied in west Palearctic breeding range, in contrast to Red-footed Falcon and Lesser Kestrel, with which frequently co-exists in African winter quarters. Here all 3 species gather to feed on swarms of flying termites which emerge after tropical rainstorms, rising to 600 m or more and often getting wetter than most native birds of prey of the region would tolerate. Savanna, sparse woodland, grassland, and cultivation preferred in winter.

The Hobby mostly breeds for the first time at two years old. They will usually nest in old crows nests, often in trees. Height above ground ranges from under 6 m to 32 m. Rarely nests on cliff tops. Egg-laying is often in June, with around 3 eggs laid. Egg laying from early June in north-west Europe. In southern part of range, including North Africa, laying from middle of May; in central Europe, earliest birds laying 2nd week May. Incubation takes around 28-31 days. The young are fully fledged in 4-5 weeks & fully independent between 4-6 weeks later. The young are often lost to crows nesting in the area.
Territorial and usually solitary when breeding; occasionally 2 or more pairs nest in loose, well-dispersed clusters, each pair holding separate nesting territory. Aerial activity in breeding territory involves many spectacular flight displays, principally by male, though these largely of unfixed pattern and occasional. If male arrives back on territory at start of season before female, makes both low circling flights over tree-tops and high soaring flights above site, often calling excitedly, and will fly up high with prey in talons. When female returns, male flies in circles round her, calling in great excitement. If pair arrive back together, female also takes part in advertisement flights.

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