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Zone-tailed Hawk

ID Info
Silhouette HawksHawks
Zone-tailed HawkButeo albonotatus
  • ORDER: Accipitriformes
  • FAMILY: Accipitridae

Basic Description

The Zone-tailed Hawk is a sleek, blackish raptor of arid foothills and canyons in the southwestern U.S. These birds have an intriguing similarity to Turkey Vultures—they fly with their wings slightly raised and occasionally rock back and forth as the vultures do. Their lightly barred flight feathers even create a two-toned effect similar to the vulture’s wing pattern. While this could be a coincidence, it’s been suggested that Zone-tailed Hawks may mimic the relatively harmless Turkey Vulture in order to fool their prey of birds, mammals, and lizards.

More ID Info
image of range map for Zone-tailed Hawk
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Finding Zone-tailed Hawks in the United States usually means birding in southern Arizona, New Mexico, California, or Texas. At this northernmost part of the species’ range they are migratory, so spring and summer are the best seasons to look. Zone-tailed Hawks hunt in areas of uneven ground: foothills, mesas, cliffs, and canyons, particularly where there are waterways or gaps in the forest. Scan the horizon and landscape for a flying raptor that looks like a Turkey Vulture but has a feathered head and bars in the tail.

Other Names

  • Busardo Aura (Spanish)
  • Buse à queue barrée (French)
  • Cool Facts