Hobby or Peregrine?

To: "Philip Veerman" <>, <>
Subject: Hobby or Peregrine?
From: "Greg and Val Clancy" <>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2013 21:10:16 +1100
Hi all,

As the person who generated this discussion, albeit unintentionally, I would like to say that Tom raised an important point. I agree with Tom that it is important for the more experienced birdos to provide reasons why they have identified a bird as a particular species. I believe that I usually do this but in the case of the falcon I just gave an opinion, which as Philip stated, is all that was asked for. When I was a novice birder I had very few experienced people that I could learn from and I only had a very old copy of 'What Bird is That?' by Neville W. Cayley to help me. It forced me teach myself to identify the local birds. As time went on I did meet some wonderful ornithologists who passed on their experience to me, although Bill Lane used to say that I had learnt all of my bad habits before he met me! Field guides are now a far cry from the early days of Cayley and Leach but they are not fool proof. I commend Neil for asking the question. I sometimes meet people with limited birding experience who are very confident because they have the field guide. Sometimes this confidence is misplaced. Keep asking the questions and I am sure that the more experienced birdos will assist you. I, for one, will be a little more informative in the future than I was today.

A few people have discussed how to distinguish an Australian Hobby from a Peregrine Falcon, and it is not always easy to do so in the field. The Peregrine is a larger and more bulky looking species with relatively shorter and broader wings and a shorter tail. Females are larger and have a very extensive white chest. Males have a white chest also but not as extensive as in the female. Hobbies are generally rufous underneath with only a small amount of white on the chest and throat which is not very obvious. The Peregrines black cap appears more complete and the pale crescent on the side of the neck is more extensive in the Hobby. Large female Hobbies can look, at first, like Peregrines. A group of falcon experts was observing a falcon approaching swiftly and all considered it to be a Peregrine but as it passed overhead it was clearly a large female Hobby (I hope that I have quoted this accurately but that is the gist of the story). The point is that even the experts can get it wrong if a bird is seen only briefly or in poor conditions. Questioning and discussion is healthy. Digital photos are great because they allow the bird to be viewed repeatedly and not just once as it disappears into the distance.

Thanks Tom for the reminder to be more informative and thanks Philip for identifying that it takes time and effort to respond to these enquiries and it is not always possible to give them much time and effort.


Dr Greg. P. Clancy
Ecologist and Birding-wildlife Guide
PO Box 63 Coutts Crossing NSW 2460
0266493153 0429601960

-----Original Message----- From: Philip Veerman
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2013 6:31 PM
Subject: Hobby or Peregrine?

Hi Paul,

Your comments are all fine and true. However I humbly suggest (not knowing
the situation of either of them) that Tom was taking a bit of a presumptive
liberty in suggesting what time and finger power that Greg has available and
what he should do with it. I don't know what time and finger power Greg has
available. The original question just asked what and did not ask why. Why
just Greg? Why not be more positive and address the message to Anthea
instead, to thank her for adding a bit of information? I could easily write
about how that bird can be identified from the photo, but although one or
two of the photos (alone) may still have been somewhat difficult, as a
series, from the bird's shape, body proportions, tail shape and length as
well as the completely diagnostic white throat and dark hood, it is an easy
call. These things are available from books and all answers received were
the same, so there is nothing to debate. Yes to have an expert in the field
describe the process that they use to identify a tern from a photograph is
incredibly helpful and by all means ask for help, but books exist for a
reason and should be a first point of call. Referring people to field guides
is not an action contrary to helping them. It is setting them up to be
better able to do this next time.


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