Hotline Photos

Common Black Hawk

Here are some photos of a  Common Black Hawk seen at about 10:00 Thursday morning, 16 Sep 2004 near Utah Lake State Park in Utah County.  Although the bird was originally identified as a Zone-tailed Hawk, from the bird in flight, observable in the photos that were taken of the perched bird, are field marks that suggest that this is, instead,  a Common Black Hawk.

Original message on the Birdnet - 16 Sep 2004:

"I saw what I'm pretty sure is a Zone-tailed Hawk (I've got some pictures and some of them show characteristics of a Common Black Hawk, but I this think it's a Zone-tailed -- both are pretty good birds for Utah County). It was about 50 yards downstream from the foot bridge across the Provo river on the south bank of the river in a willow tree. It was on a branch over the river, about 20 feet up. I'll post some pictures soon.. ~ Milt"

E-mail to Chuck LaRue  - 16 Sep 2004:

I had the same thoughts when I was looking at the photos -- had some definite marking that might indicate a Common Black Hawk, however there were a couple of significant looks I got of the hawk that I didn't  capture with my camera. The first time I saw it, it flew right in front of my car, as it was being chased by a male American Kestrel. I had a nice but very quick look at the underside of the wings and the shape and pattern of the tail. The tail was definitely too long for a Common
 Black Hawk and there were a lot of white markings all along the flight feathers of the wings -- the wings were also too narrow to be a common night hawk. I saw the tail shape and pattern again when it hopped about 8 feet to another branch of the tree where I got the photos. I looked at several other field guides (besides the Sibley's which was the first one I consulted) and saw different renditions of the Zone-tailed Hawk that looked more like the bird I saw. Judging from the photos I had some question, but considering the other looks I got, I'm pretty convinced that it was a Zone-tailed Hawk...  ~ Milton Moody


Comments from some Arizona birders suggest that this is a Common Black Hawk. 

Here are some of their comments:


(The bird was perching in a willow tree on the south bank of the Provo River about 50 yards downstream from the foot bridge (blocked to traffic) across the river coming from Utah Lake State Park  -- close to where the river flows into Utah Lake).

Front View - Notice the yellow feet as well as the white tip on the tail with more white showing just under the branch.
Back View - Notice the length of the tail compared to the length of the wings and tertials.
Enlarged and lightened from the above.

Photos by Milt Moody


Return to the Utah Birds Home Page