Hobby or Peregrine?

To: Birding-Aus Aus <>
Subject: Hobby or Peregrine?
From: "Sandra & Neil Shelley" <>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2013 21:32:34 +1100
Thanks to everyone for their feedback.  The unanimous decision was
Peregrine Falcon.

Interestingly, three people observed the falcons: the photographer went for
Australian Hobby; I went for Peregrine Falcon; the other was noncommittal,
not having had good views of the birds.

I did consult several field guides (Debus 2nd ed. and Czechura & Field),
but still wasn't certain - thus my posting on Birding Aus.

On 31 January 2013 21:10, Greg and Val Clancy <> wrote:

> 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.
> Regards
> Greg
> 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
> To: 
> Cc: 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] 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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