Hunter bird is spotted locally

UNCOMMON: Australian hobbies are typically irregular in the area.

UNCOMMON: Australian hobbies are typically irregular in the area.

A bird with a black back flew into a tree in Sebastopol. It perched very erect and then swivelled its head through 180 degrees, showing very owl-like features – sooty-black face, two large eyes close together, and small beak. After a while it flew, revealing a taupe or fawn colour on the front, and the neck or bib was dark russet red which merged to black on its back. Feet were yellow.

D.O., Sebastopol.

Your bird is most likely an Australian hobby, a member of the falcon family. Hawks of various species can often appear rather owl-like when perched. The Australian hobby has the dark head and face you describe, also the pale rusty colour underneath and the yellow legs. Your bird probably just missed a sparrow or starling when it decided to rest in the tree.

  • Questions and photos are welcome. Send to Roger Thomas at The Courier, PO Box 21, Ballarat, 3353, or email to rthomas@vic.australis.com.au