Cooperative hunting by hobbies

Subject: Cooperative hunting by hobbies
From: "David Geering"<>
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 08:40:27 +1000
While working on Regent Honeyeaters in the Capertee Valley I regularly saw
Little Hobbies hunting cooperatively.  Three occasions were memorable:
   In 1994, large numbers of honeyeaters and Little Lorikeets were feeding
   in flowering Yellow Box along the edge of woodland and in shade trees in
   the adjacent pasture. The first hobby would fly past about 30 metres out
   from the edge of the woodland and level with the top of the canopy
   resulting in birds going in every direction, particularly those in the
   isolated trees.  The second hobby would invariably be about 30 to 50
   metres behind the first but lower and hugging the tree line.  This bird
   would then suddenly accelerate, sweeping upward to pursue a flushed
   Several hundred metres away from this location were lucerne paddocks
   with many pipits and bushlarks.  These same hobbies would occasionally
   be seen working this area.  The first hobby would fly over the paddock
   about 30 metres above the ground with the second following behind
   hugging the ground.  This bird would peel upward to pursue any pipit or
   bushlark flushed.
   in 1995, large numbers of honeyeaters and Little Lorikeets were feeding
   in a couple of isolated Mugga Ironbarks in pasture.  On this occasion
   the first hobby would flew past the trees with the second behind and
   above.  On one particularly windy day the first bird was observed the
   manoeuvre through the canopy of a large tree while the second hung in
   the wind (not unlike a kestrel).  This bird was capably of an amazing
   turn of speed from a "standing start" in pursuit of flushed lorikeets.

Interestingly, where honeyeaters and lorikeets were present I only saw the
hobbies pursue Little Lorikeet.  Several kills were observed.  I found this
suprising given the speed of lorikeets, but perhaps a nice fat lorikeet is
far more attractive than a scrawny honeyeater and is worth the effort.
Hobbies were also regularly seen flying along the Capertee River in the
same manner, presumably in an attempt to flush birds feeding in the
mistletoe growing on the River Oak.  It was not possible to determine if
the birds maintained or switched roles or if kills were shared.

David Geering

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