Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2004-

Common name:

Zone-tailed Hawk

Scientific name: Buteo albonotatus
Date: I observed them at four different occasions throughout the summer: June 24, July 10 (photographed), and August 20   [2004]
Time: various time, usuaully afternoon
Length of time observed: 1 hour +
Number: 2
Age: Adults
Sex: male and female
Location: Lava Point area, Zion National Park, Kolob Creek Meadows
County: Washington
Latilong: 19
Elevation: ~ 2250 m
Distance to bird: 40- 200 m
Optical equipment: 10 x 42 binoculars
Weather: sunny and partly cloudy
Light Conditions: sunlight
Detailed description of bird: Observed two individuals. Both very similar to a Turkey Vulture in overall appearance and flight pattern (dihedral wings, tippy flight). Overall dark brownish black with silvery wing linings and fine barring on the secondaries and primaries noticeable when seen well from below. Wing tips splayed. Tail (viewed from below only)with alternating dark and light bands (thin light band on the tip, wider dark band, light band, and dark undertail coverts). Yellowish cere and legs. Legs much shorter than the tail when observed in flight from below. Both birds were molting primaries which aided in picking them out from the large flocks of Turkey Vultures in the area. (see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None
Behavior: Soaring with flight pattern, size, and shape very similar to a Turkey Vulture
Habitat: Alpine Doug-fir, Aspen, Fir, Ponderosa forest, and open meadow habitat
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Turkey Vulture: eliminated by yellow cere, banded tail.

Common Black-Hawk: eliminated by size and shape, long narrow wings, short legs, tail pattern, and soaring behavior.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I've seen Zone-tailed Hawks a number of times in Arizona and SW Utah.
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Rick Fridell, John Fridell, Kevin Wheeler
Observer's address: 3505 West 290 North, Hurricane UT 84737
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Larry Tripp
Date prepared: 9-29-04    (General Public)
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: This is the first time I've seen two Zone-tailed Hawks occupying an area regularly throughout the summer. Although I did not see any young birds, or direct evidence, I believe its possible they were nesting in the cliffs along the Kolob Creek Canyon north of Lava Point.