Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2003-21

Common name:

Zone-tailed Hawk

Scientific name: Buteo albonotatus
Date: 4-30-03
Time: 1830
Length of time observed: 3-4 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult (first spring?)
Location: Silver Reef Along sandstone cliffs just after crossing (west of) Leeds Creek
County: Washington
Latilong: 19
Distance to bird: ~ 50 m
Optical equipment: 10-42 binoculars
Weather: partly cloudy, calm
Light Conditions: bright afternoon sunlight
Detailed description of bird: Incredibly similar to a Turkey Vulture (tippy flight, wings held in dihedral, splayed primary tips). Dark brownish black overall with pale silvery wing linings, primaries and secondaries with fine barring visible from below, long outstretched outer primaries. Cere and legs yellow, visible in flight.
Tail: Long dark tail, with thin pale terminal band, and one large white band visible from below. A second thinner grayish white band visible on the rump when viewed from the top.   [see photos]
Song or call & method of delivery: silent
Behavior: Soaring along face of sandstone cliffs, amazingly similar to a Turkey Vulture (tippy flight, wings held in dihedral shape)
Habitat: Sandstone cliffs, transition between Pinyon-Juniper / Manzanita scrub / and lowland desert (bursage/coleogyne).
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
Turkey Vulture: a little larger, with featherless reddish head, lacking white bands in tail and fine vermiculations in primaries and secondaries.

Common Black-Hawk: much shorter tailed and broader winged appearance, wing linings darker, longer legs/feet almost reaching end of tail.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I've seen Zone-tails a couple times previously in Arizona and Utah.
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Rick Fridell
Observer's address: 3505 West 290 North
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Date prepared: June 7, 2003  (General Public)
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: Photos taken with Camedia digital camera. I think this might be a first spring bird, since it appears this hawk has
recently molted its outer primaries.