Autumn migration of adult Eurasian hobbies Falco subbuteo from Europe to southern Africa was recorded by satellite telemetry and observed routes were compared with randomly simulated routes. Two non-random features of observed routes were revealed: (i) shifts to more westerly longitudes than straight paths to destinations and (ii) strong route convergence towards a restricted area close to the equator (1 degrees S, 15 degrees E). The birds migrated south or southwest to approximately 10 degrees N, where they changed to south-easterly courses. The maximal spread between routes at 10 degrees N (2134km) rapidly decreased to a minimum (67km) close to the equator. We found a striking relationship between the route convergence and the distribution of continuous rainforest, suggesting that hobbies minimize flight distance across the forest, concentrating in a corridor where habitat may be more suitable for travelling and foraging. With rainforest forming a possible ecological barrier, many migrants may cross the equator either at 15 degrees E, similar to the hobbies, or at 30-40 degrees E, east of the rainforest where large-scale migration is well documented. Much remains to be understood about the role of the rainforest for the evolution and future of the trans-equatorial Palaearctic-African bird migration systems.