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Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus


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Zone-tailed Hawk
credit: Stolz, Gary M

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Accipitridae, Hawks and Eagles view all from this family

Description ADULT Has uniformly blackish plumage except for tail, which is banded above and below. Legs, feet, and cere are yellow. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but tail is gray with narrow, darker barring.

Dimensions Length: 18 1/2 -21 1/2" (47-55 cm); Wngspn: 4' (1.2 m)

Habitat Rather scarce summer visitor to dry, wooded valleys and riparian woodland in southern states; winters in Central America.

Observation Tips Search for soaring birds riding morning thermals, but beware confusion with Turkey Vulture.

Range Southwest, Texas, California, Plains

Voice Mostly silent.

Similar Species Common Black-Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus (W 44-47 in) has similar adult plumage when perched, but entirely different outline in flight: wings are extremely broad and rounded and tail is very short and typically widely fanned. Adult is blackish, except for single broad white band on upper tail (above and below). Juvenile is brown and streaked; tail has many narrow and wavy dark bands. Scarce summer visitor to southern Utah and Texas wetlands.

Discussion Large, dark raptor. Rather long tail is banded black and white in adult birds. Wings are long and an even width; in all birds flight feathers are paler than rest of body and soaring birds (wings held stiffly in a shallow"V") could be confused with Turkey Vulture. Note, however, Zone-tailed's banded (adult) or barred (juvenile) tail (uniformly grayish in Turkey Vulture) and thicker neck. Sexes are similar.