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.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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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
2015

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.

History
  • 2012
    Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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