This Could be your Favourite Hobby
What is an Australian Hobby? Going to the beach? Playing cricket? Eating pies? No, it’s actually a bird! There is a small falcon flying around near you that is looking for a nest and it goes by the name of ‘Australian Hobby’.
Don’t laugh too much as these little birds are actually very serious, skilled hunters of the sky. They are one of the fastest, most agile birds of prey. Hobbies are found across the world but this particular buddy is only found in Australia and occasionally Indonesia and New Guinea.
The Australian Hobby has another name, Little Falcon, because it looks a lot like the Peregrine Falcon only smaller. The Peregrine Falcon is well-known as it lives on most continents and also holds the record as the fastest animal in the world. But the Australian Hobby certainly gives the Peregrine a run for its money when it comes to speed and mid-air acrobatics.
No matter where you live, you’ll have a good chance of seeing this little bird at the moment as it is found all over Australia including around towns and cities. The Hobby is currently looking for a place to nest so you will see mum and dad spending more time flying low while they search for somewhere to settle down and start their families.
During nesting and breeding, the Hobby will settle down and stay in the one place for a while instead of their usual long distance flights which can take them thousands of kilometers away from home. Mum and dad will usually cheat a little and make their nests out of the abandoned nests of other birds such as crows. This no doubt saves them some time and energy. On these platforms of twigs and sticks, mum will lay three small eggs and sit on them for 35 days until they hatch.
While mum is sitting on her eggs, dad has to increase his hunting to feed both of them and then the chicks. He will usually visit the nest every three hours. When dad appears with food, he will call mum over to collect the meal. He will transfer his food to mum either in mid-air or on a nearby tree. Then it’s up to mum to distribute the meat amongst the hungry chicks.
The Australian Hobby does most of its hunting at the end of the day so keep this in mind if you want to spot this buddy. One of the best ways to know if an Australian Hobby is nearby is the alarm calls made by other birds when they appear.
These birds of prey are the top of the food chain meaning that smaller birds and insects had better watch out if they don’t want to become dinner. The Hobby’s call is a quick, repetitive ‘ki, ki, ki’ sound.
The Australian Hobby flies very quickly, with rapid wing beats. It is a very stealthy and cunning bird who will often stalk its prey. Once they lock eyes onto their prey, they can become a blur in the sky, flying and falling as quickly as possible to grab their food in their talons. The Hobby loves to eat insects such as cicadas and dragonflies and also birds like the sparrow, lorikeet and pigeon. Some of these birds can be just as big as the Hobby.
There is an impressive trick that the Australian Hobby can perform, called ‘hawking’. Hawking involves the capture of prey mid-air. The Australian Hobby not only catches their prey in the air but they will often be seen eating while still flying — an impressive talent.
The colour of the Australian Hobby’s feathers varies across Australia depending on their age, sex and the humidity. Generally a hobby has grey wings and back, and a brown stomach. When the humidity goes up, their feathers will darken and their grey wings can appear black.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Because the Australian Hobby loves to fly at incredible speeds to catch its prey, make sure you don’t block its path with dangerous obstacles such as barbed wire and netting. Call your local wildlife carer if you spot an injured animal.