Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Eurasian Hobby/Lærkefalk
Falco subbuteo

photo Portlandmose, Lille Vildmose 20. June 2009:
stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan foto

The Eurasian hobby can without slowing down its speed catch a dragonfly in the air, bring the insect to its beak with the claw and eat it. Just look at a gallery with fantastic photos of the hobby. See especially nr. 7 on the first page by Mogens Hansen, where the falcon eats its "lunch" in the air. The hobby is able to catch both swallows and swifts on the wing, and barn swallows or house Martins have a characteristic "hobby" alarm call.

The hobby prefers open landscapes with small forests and wetlands. Its food are birds, insects and exceptionally bats. This pretty little flyer is the size of a kestrel, but has another plumage and flight. It is a well-proportioned falcon with long, pointed wings and a rather short tail. It has an elegant flight with fast strong strokes of the wings interrupted by a glide. The hobby does not hover like the kestrel. Adults are slate-grey above, and streaked lengthwise below, with a white throat. Close views enable the red "trousers" and vent to be seen. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are generally much browner.

The hobby is a true falcon. In falconry one of the characteristics of a true falcon is to prey on birds in the open air. They circle hundreds of feet into the air, waiting for the prey to be flushed out by beaters or dogs. In falconry in the Middle Ages only the larger female bird was properly called the falcon. The male, which is up to one third smaller than the female, was the tiercel. The long winged falcons were restricted to nobility.The hobby was considered the easiest falcon to train, it was mostly used for hunting larks.

The Eurasian Hobby is native to most of Europe and Asia and some localitites in Northwest Africa. In Europe it breeds mostly in lowlands, in general avoiding large areas without trees. In Denmark the species is especially connected to older, open forests with grazed meadows or wetlands or other open nearby biotops which are rich in insect-life.

In the 1800s the hobby was probably a common breeding bird in Denmark, but with the intensive agriculture the species declined. Environmental poisons contributed furthermore to this development. Around 1950 the breeding population were reduced to max. 20 pair. It seemed that the decline continued up to the Millenium with only 5 pair. 2005 was the best hobby-year since the start of *DOF's project Truede og Sjældne Ynglefugle (DATSY) in 1998 with at least 15 pair. In 2006 were at least 10 breeding pair in Denmark. Hobbies nest in old nests of crows and other birds, laying 2-4 eggs. Three hobby-pair have breeded in old crow-nests put up in pylons, all in Sønderjylland. The hobby overwinters in Africa.

Eurasian Hobby see :

A wonderful story about a young Eurasian hobby with a broken wing.
A hobby with a broken wing was saved. After 29 days on Aabenraa Veterinary Hospital the young hobby could be discharged. The rare falcon was found with a broken wing by a local ornitologist Jesper Tofft from Sønderjylland. The hobby was a young bird from one of the crow-nests in the pylons in Sønderjylland. Jesper Tofft keeps an open eye with the Eurasian Hobby in the above mentioned project *DATSY, and he brought the hobby to the veterinary hospital. Dyrenes Beskyttelse (Animal Protection) has a nursing station in connection to the hospital. Usually birds of prey and owls with a broken wing do not achieve a nursing place, since experience shows that hunting birds with broken wings seldom can be cured and become effective hunters in the wild again. But the veterinarian Torben Knage-Rasmussen made an exception. "The ornitologists argued for that we had to do everything in order to heal this young hobby, because the species are so rare in Denmark that each specimen is of importance to the population" And then the veterinarian said yes. There are probably only 15 hobby pair in Denmark at present.

Except the broken wing the hobby was in good condition and vigorous. It also had a good appetite. It had to be fed on the first day, but already on the next day it eat the food itself. (chickens). On the first days the falcon was in a box with straw, but it soon came to
a small volière, and three weeks later in a large volière where it trained the first flights. T
he falcon was calm and composed during the whole course, and the veterinarian describes it as an easy patient. He said that he had taken care of various birds of prey, but the hobby was very balanced with a calm temper. It wasn't confused although it was experiencing an unusual situation.

Fortunately it showed that the nursing was worth the try. After 29 days of nursing the young patient was ringed, before Jesper Tofft put the it out near the nest where it was born. The falcon was so fast and brisk that the ready photographer missed to sharpen the picture. It rushed out at high speed to live the life of a free bird again, and it was received by two hobbies from its own family only a few minutes later.

(Dansk Ornitoligisk Forening)
Danmarks Fugle og Natur

* DATSY is a project for endangered and rare breeding birds in Denmark.

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