Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2021-41

Common name:

Zone-tailed Hawk

Scientific name: Buteo albonotatus
Date: 06/10/2021
Time: 3:00 PM
Length of time observed: 2 hours
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Location: Hurricane
County: Washington
Elevation: ~3250 ft
Distance to bird: 10 meters
Optical equipment: 8X42 binoculars and 500 mm lens
Weather: Clear, hot
Light Conditions: Varied from mostly shade to mostly sun
Description:        Size of bird: Mid-sized Buteo
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Hawk
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: All dark (black/dark brown)
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
All dark Buteo with yellow cere and pale-gray loral area. Extent of yellow on face more limited than Common black-hawk. Primary projection appeared to extend to tail tip. Black/white/brownish barring was briefly visible on upper-side of tail. Very briefly saw its wings spread, including the pale/barred primaries and secondaries and the contrasting dark wing lining (very blurry spread wing photo included, which is a screen shot from a video I recorded). Some barring also apparent on tertials. The way this bird was perched made some features difficult to see (including leg length).

Other notable details:

This ZTHA showed up in the front yard of Justin Neighbor, who happens to be the only permitted raptor rehabilitator in Washington County. While observing this bird we suspected that it may have an injury, as it looked in rough shape and was behaving oddly tame. I watched it intermittently for about 2 hours as it plucked and ate a Rock Pigeon, and it was still working on its meal when I left. As it ate the pigeon, it perched on the honeysuckle hedge in his front yard, only a few feet off the ground and only a few feet from the roadway, and seemed mostly unbothered by passing vehicles, kids riding scooters, etc. (never flushed while I watched it).

Justin informed me the next day that this bird apparently had a tough time flying later that evening and he was able to successfully capture it. He said the bird was weak, dehydrated, and had damage to its bill. It is currently still in Justin's possession, but the condition of the hawk is steadily improving and Justin is hopeful that he will be able to release it soon.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None
Behavior: On low perch eating a pigeon. Only moved a few feet over the course of ~2 hours
Habitat: Residential: older neighborhood with large pecans and other large trees
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Common Black Hawk: would show more yellow and less gray on face, and a shorter primary projection

Turkey Vulture: similar in flight, but not very similar while perched, especially when observed at close range.

Other dark morph Buteos were ruled out due to combination of details, including extent of yellow cere, gray on face, extent of banding on tail and underwings, structural details, etc.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Third ZTHA observation in Utah (saw two different individuals during consecutive days at Pine Park in August 2019). However, this was my first time observing this species while perched.

Common Black Hawk: I see this species each year in Washington County, usually multiple times.

Dark Morph Red-tailed Hawk and other common dark morph Buteos: extensive prior experience

Turkey Vulture: yes, many observations
References consulted: Sibley App, Birds of the World Online
Description from:

Notes taken at the time of the sighting
 From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting

Observer: Mike Schijf
Observer's address: 109 S 330 W Ivins, UT 84738
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Justin Neighbor, John Schijf....also observed by Seth Topham and his family while under Justin s possession
Date prepared: 06/21/2021
Additional material: Photos  
Additional comments: