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Hobby (Falco subbuteo)

A quick and dynamic flier, the hobby is an accomplished hunter of dragonflies matching their agility perfectly.

Common name: hobby

Scientific name: Falco subbuteo

Family: Falconidae (falcons and allies)


Head: is brown with two dark patterns resembling a moustache and a mask. The hobby also has a white patch on its cheek and a white throat. 

Wings: dark grey to brown in colour, the long and pointed wings span 87cm. They are a similar shape to those of a giant swift.

Body: the hobby has a very streamlined shaped. The top of the its body is slate grey and the underside is a cream colour, streaked with black on its belly. It sports a brilliant red on the underside of its tail. 

Where to spot

The hobby is commonly found in watery areas, near heathland or on marshes. It also frequents open ground, flitting between scattered trees, or on the edges of woodland across the UK.


It feed off small birds and large insects including dragonflies. The hobby catches and eats its prey in flight, passing the food from its talons to its beak while still in the air.


The hobby breeds at two years old. Its young are raised between June and August in the discarded nests of other birds. 


  • Hobbies are a summer visitor to the UK, spending winter in Africa, south of the Sahara. They arrive in the UK from April and leave again in September and October.
  • Once limited to the south of the UK, hobbies are expanding their range and are now breeding in Scotland
  • The table football game, "Subbuteo" was named after the hobby (Falco subbuteo) because it was the designer's favourite bird.
  • Falco subbuteo means 'smaller than a buzzard'.
  • Has a typical lifespan of five years.