Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The African hobby hunts on the wing, chasing after its prey with great speed and agility. Insects, especially winged termites, make up the bulk of the diet, and are eaten in flight. Small birds and possibly a few small mammals are also caught, and taken to a perch to consume (2) (4) (5). Most hunting takes place at dawn and dusk, the birds resting in tall trees for much of the day. Although generally found alone or in pairs, groups of up to 30 African hobbies may congregate when termites or locusts are swarming (2) (4). Like other falcons, the African hobby does not usually build its own nest, but instead takes over the nests of other species, often evicting the original owners (2) (5). Breeding takes place between December and April in western and north-eastern Africa, and between August and November in more southern areas. Two to three eggs are laid and hatch after an incubation period of around 30 days, during which time the male brings food to the female. The young fledge after about 30 days (2).
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Description

The African hobby is a small, dark falcon with a slim body and long, scythe-like wings, which reach to the end of the tail when the bird is perched (4). The throat, chest and underparts are a rich chestnut colour, finely streaked with black, and the back, wings and tail are dark grey to slate black. The chestnut-buff cheeks are marked with a distinctive black 'moustache', the eyes are dark brown, surrounded by a ring of yellow skin, and the legs are yellow. The female African hobby is slightly larger than the male, while juveniles are distinguished by having duller upperparts, edged in brown, and more heavily streaked underparts (2) (4). The call of the African hobby is a high-pitched kik-kik-kik-kik (6).
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Distribution

Range

Savanna of Africa south of the Sahara.

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Range

The African hobby occurs throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal and Gambia east to Somalia, and south to South Africa (2) (7). The species may be locally migratory in parts of West Africa (2).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Inhabits open, moist woodland, damp wooded savanna, forest edges and large clearings, up to elevations of 2,500 to 3,000 metres (2) (4) (6).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to 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.
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Status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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Population

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Having a wide distribution, a large global population, and even being found within cities, the African hobby is not currently considered to be globally threatened (2) (7). Pesticide use, which can threaten other birds of prey, is not known to affect this species (2).
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Management

Conservation

The African hobby is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that international trade in African hobbies should be carefully monitored and controlled (3). However, there are no other known conservation measures currently in place for this species.
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Wikipedia

African Hobby

The African hobby (Falco cuvierii) is a small species of bird of prey in the Falconidae family.

Description[edit]

A small, slim falcon with blackish upperparts and deep rufous underparts with rufous cheek, nape and throat. At close range black streaks can be seen on the throat and flanks. The facial skin and feet are yellow. Juvenile birds are browner above with heavier streaking on the underparts and paler on cheek, nape and throat. Length 20 cm, wingspan 70 cm.

Habitat[edit]

Edge of moist woodlands and forests, commonest in palm savannah and gallery forest in west and western regions of East Africa. Less common in central Africa and north-eastern Africa.

Behaviour and diet[edit]

Hunts on the wing, mainly at dawn and dusk. When not breeding the African hobby is thought to feed almost entirely on flying insects: termite alates, grasshoppers, locusts, beetles and cicadas have all been recorded. Feeding concentrations of up to 30 birds have been recorded when termite alates or locusts are swarming. When breeding a high proportion of small birds such as weavers, estrildid finches and swallows up to the size of doves are favoured. It hunts either by making sorties from a perch or quartering across favoured hunting areas at 50-100m. Normally encountered as solitary birds but sometimes in pairs or small family groups. For nesting they use the old stick nests of other birds, especially black kite, which are situated high in a tree. Breeding has been recorded in December to June in the western part of the range, August to December in equatorial East Africa and September to January in southern Africa.

Distribution[edit]

It is found in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This species can be nomadic, following food sources.

Taxonomy[edit]

African hobby is a monotypic species. As a typical hobby it has been traditionally considered a member of the subgenus Hypotriorchis due to its similar morphology to the other hobbies.

References[edit]

  • Ferguson-Lees, James; Christie, David A. (2001). Raptors of the World. Illustrated by Kim Franklin, David Mead, and Philip Burton. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-618-12762-7
  • A.C. Kemp (1991), Sasol Birds of Prey of Africa, New Holland Publishers Ltd
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