©Andy Morffew


Scientific name: Falco subbuteo
Look out for the swift-like shape of the hobby as it darts over heathlands and wetlands in summer. They are keen hunters, chasing and catching fast-flying dragonflies and small birds on the wing.

Species information


Length: 33-38cm
Wingspan: 87cm
Weight: 180-240g
Average lifespan: 5 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

April to October


The hobby is a small falcon, smaller than a kestrel. With their long wings and streamlined shape, they are perfectly evolved for catching dragonflies and small birds, such as house martins and swifts, on the wing, often transferring their quarry from talon to mouth in mid-air. They are a migratory species, coming to the UK in summer to breed and wintering in Africa. Hobbies can be seen hunting over heathlands, flooded gravel pits and woodland edges.

How to identify

The hobby is an elegant little falcon, slate-grey above and pale below, with black streaks on the belly and brick-red 'trousers'. It has a white throat and cheeks, dark moustache and mask. With pointed wings, it looks like an over-sized swift in the air.


A summer visitor to the south and east of England and South Wales. A very rare visitor to Scotland.

Did you know?

The popular table-top football game known as 'Subbuteo' got its name from the scientific name of the hobby, Falco subbuteo, because it was the designer's favourite bird.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland and heathland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.