Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2003-34

Common name:

Zone-tailed Hawk

Scientific name: Buteo albonotatus
Date: 08-25-03
Time: 1800 hrs
Length of time observed: 3-5 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Location: Lava Point, Zion National Park
County: Washington
Latilong: 19
Elevation: 3384
Distance to bird: 50-100 m
Optical equipment: 10 x 42 Leica binoculars
Weather: overcast and calm
Light Conditions: good diffused light
Detailed description of bird: A large raptor (about 3/4 or 4/5th the size of nearby Turkey Vultures) with long narrow wings and a long tail. Body and inner wing linings black; Wings all dark grey/ black above.  Underwings with vermiculated remiges and a thin black outer border, and splayed primary tips. Yellow cere and legs very obvious with close view in good light. Long broad tail (much longer than legs); top of tail with two grayish white bands; undertail with broad white
band and a broad black terminal band. (see photo)
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: Soaring with two Turkey Vultures over valley north of the Lava Point Campground. Flight behavior similar to Turkey Vulture with wings held in dihedral and splayed primary tips.
Habitat: Spruce-fir, Ponderosa, meadows, and reservoirs.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Common Black-Hawk distinguished by short tail, long legs reaching nearly to the end of the tail, and very broad wings.

Other dark-morph buteos eliminated by shape, length of tail, and underwing and tail pattern.

Turkey Vulture eliminated by tail banding and color of head, cere, and legs.

Previous experience with
this & similar species:
This is the third Zone-tailed Hawk I've seen in Washington County.
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Rick Fridell
Observer's address: 3505 West 290 North, Hurricane, UT
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: No other observers on this date, however see comments below.
Date prepared: 10-02-03  (General Public)
Additional material: Photo
Additional comments: Unfortunately my camera was running out of batteries and I managed only one very blurry photo. An adult Zone-tailed Hawk was observed soaring over nearby Kolob Reservoir on 5-25-03 by John Schijf. Also there were many additional Zone-tailed Hawk sightings in SW Utah this year: Silver Reef, 04-30-03, R. Fridell; I-15 Kanarraville Rest Area, 06-01-03, S. & P. Summers; Baker Reservoir, 6-10-03, L. Tripp; and Virgin River, St. George, 06-27-03, K. Wheeler et al.