Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2007-29

Common name:

Zone-tailed Hawk

Scientific name: Buteo albonotatus
Date: September 4, 2007
Time: 11:30 am MDT
Length of time observed: 10 seconds
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: male (probably)
Location: S of Monticello, W of Hwy 191, Devil Canyon, Manti La Sal N.F.
County: San Juan
Latilong: UTM 12S-639837E, 4178805N
Elevation: 7211 feet
Distance to bird: 300 feet give or take 100 feet
Optical equipment: Swift Ultra Lite 10x42 binoculars
Weather: sunny
Light Conditions: blue sky background
Description:        Size of bird: buteo-sized, appeared bit smaller than TUVU
(Description:)       Basic Shape: moderately long-winged, long-tailed buteo
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: black, actually grayish-black in full sun
(Description:)            Bill Type: hooked, not esp. large
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The more burly head tipped me off that one of the two birds soaring was not a TUVU. It was sooty black, with flight feathers pale with thin dark barring fairly equally throughout except at the
tips, which were not particularly noticed. The tail in the first two passes appeared to have just one white bar (band), which seemed rather narrow, perhaps not more than 1.25 inches wide. On the third pass there seemed to be another bar or bars proximally (toward base of tail), but
perhaps I only imagined it. The width of the black on the proximal side of the bar suggested that the bird was an adult male. The face in front of the eye was whitish and the color went into the bill base. The tip of the bill appeared black.
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: Flying with and like one turkey vulture that it was with on two of the three passes overhead.
Habitat: Ponderosa pine/Gambel oak young stand not much past pole stage, but mature trees along canyon to the east nearby.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Rough-legged Hawk, melanistic phase: species not expected here at this time, white in tail not distinct band across black tail, face and bill base not uniformly whitish.

Black Hawk: broader wings, shorter tail, while field guides may not show its single white tail band to be broader than zone-tailed hawk's, my experience suggests to me that it is. The rocking TV-like flight form and pattern, and the association with vultures is not expected by me in a black hawk or any other black raptor.

Previous experience with
this & similar species:
On May 2 of this year I got long leasurely looks at close range of a strongly yellow-faced Black Hawk. I've seen Zone-tailed Hawks on 4 other occasions in Big Bend NP, and in S Arizona.
References consulted: Sibley (the poorest), Kaufman, Audubon, ABC, Natl. Geogr. bird guides, and two Clark & Wheeler Hawks guides
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Ron Lambeth
Observer's address: 624 Yucca Dr., Grand Junction, CO 81503
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: My wife saw the bird and independently concluded from my excitement that it was a good bird.
Date prepared: Sept. 5, 2007
Additional material:  
Additional Comments: The USFS' Devil Canyon Campground is just south of the observation site a quarter mile or so.