Photo by Alison Davies

Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus)

Fun Fact

Some ornithologists believe that Zone-tailed Hawks mimic Turkey Vultures and trick potential prey animals into not being alarmed when a they flie overhead.

Etymology

Named for the numerous white "zones" on the tail.

Lifespan

No information available.

Conservation Status

IUCN Least Concern

Identification

One can distinguish them from vultures by their smaller size, the typical hawk shape of the wings and head, and the pale stripe on the tail. Since vultures frequently can be seen flying in numbers (groups are called "kettles"), Zone-tailed Hawks can mingle with them and are perhaps most often missed by the human eye in such kettles.

Length

46 to 56 cm (18 to 22 in)

Wingspan

117–140 cm (46–55 in)

Weight

565–1,080 g (1.25–2.4 lb)

Distribution

In the Northern Hemisphere, Zone-tailed Hawks range from parts of southern Arizona, New Mexico, and westernTexas almost throughout inland Mexico and the central portions of Central America.

Habitat

Zone-tailed Hawks can adapt to various habitats across their extensive range. Often, the largest numbers are found in rocky areas with access to water. They can be found in coniferous or pine-oak forests as well as scrub, humid forests and overgrown marshes. They may even forage semi-desert, but always need at least scattered tree thickets for nesting

Prey

Its most common prey consists of birds up to the size of quail, large lizards and other lower vertebrates, and small mammals.

Behaviors

The bird's flight feathers closely resembles those of the Turkey Vulture. Zone-tailed Hawks also soar in a manner resembling Turkey Vultures, they hold their wings in a sharp dyhedron, and rock from side to side. One can distinguish them from vultures by their smaller size, the typical hawk shape of the wings and head, and the pale stripe on the tail. Since vultures frequently can be seen flying in numbers (groups are called "kettles"), Zone-tailed Hawks can mingle with them and are perhaps most often missed by the human eye in such kettles.

Breeding

In the northern part of the range, the breeding season is April through July, whereas in the southern portion, it is February through June. The mating pair perform a courtship display, in which both sexes engage in aerial loops, and rolls with eachother. The nest is very ypical of hawks: a big, bulky mass of sticks, lined with leaves, usually built in the top or in the main fork of a tree. Clutch size is 1 to 3, white eggs, often marked with brown. Incubation period lasts for around 28 to 35 days and usually the female incubates, while being fed by the male. However, the male may occasionally incubate. The young are semi-altricial at hatching.

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Citation

InfoNatura: Animals and Ecosystems of Latin America [web application]. 2007. Version 5.0 . Arlington, Virginia (USA): NatureServe. Available: http://www.natureserve.org/infonatura. (Accessed: April 7, 2013 ).

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