Common Black Hawk
From the photos, Arizona birders more familiar with these two
species, suggest that this is a Common Black Hawk rather than a Zone-tailed
Hawk. Here are some
E-mail from Chuck LaRue to Milt Moody -
Thursday, September 16, 2004 3:08 PM
I'm not 100% sure of this but I think your hawk is a Common Black Hawk. I
say this a bit chaginedly because I see them occasionally here in central
AZ but yet am not certain from your photos. But the bird seems to have too
extensive white in the cere for zonetail, the wingtips appear to fall too
short on the tail for zonetail and appears good for black hawk, the legs
look good for black hawk and too long for zonetail. In the photo of it
leaning the gestalt looks good of black hawk. The ID from the pics would
almost be easier of they were a bit more distant! Again I am not certain
of my guess here and you might want to circulate it some. One way or the
other you found a great bird for northern Utah.
E-mail from Chuck LaRue - September 16, 2004
having not seen the bird personally I may be waaay out of line here in
still discussing the ID. After my first E-mail to you I looked up all of
my reference material at hand. These little ID exercises are a lot of fun
because I end up learning stuff I didn't know before. There are a number
of features on your bird that look to be very good for black hawk.
1) the face
doesn't look like the face of zonetailed to me but looks like classic
black hawk. 2) from my references I don't think zonetail ever shows that
much white at the end of the tail whereas that is classic for black hawk.
3) zonetails never show wings as short as this bird is showing...they
should reach or even extend a bit beyond the tip of the tail 4) the legs
very long with the tarsus longer than the middle toe which is a black hawk
trait 5) the undertail coverts are tipped in whitish which is, I
think a black hawk trait and not a zonetail trait. 6) on the first photo
the out of place secondary looks more like a black hawk's than a
zonetailed's (I would need to double check this with skins). Finally,
although not diagnostic, the habitat and behavior is more consistent with
black hawk than zonetail. I forwarded your link to Tom Huels at the U of A
to see if he can compare your photos directly to skins.
Again I am not certain until I could check skins etc. so forgive my
lingering doubts. I forwarded your link on to several birders in southern
AZ including a good raptor specialist with extensive experience in
tropical and subtropical raptors. I'll forward their comments if and when
they ever come in. You should try to get some more pics and observations
if you can.
With apologies for possibly flogging a dead horse,
P.S. to above e-mail:
oh hey! I just looked at the pics again after sending off that last
E-mail to you before closing out the link and your bird IS a black hawk
absolutely for one real simple and obvious reason: the white on black hawk
tail's is white from both above and below. On zonetail it is white from
below but grayish from above. Your bird is showing whitish from above.
E-mail - 17 Sep 2004 - 8:30 AM
(... [Dr. David Ellis] is one of the foremost raptor biologists with
extensive experience in the tropics and neotropics as well as Arizona. ~ Chuck LeRue)
... Everything about the bird screams black hawk (but greater or common?).
As you know, blacks are so easy to tell from zone-tails when in flight,
but the patterns of featherless areas in lores and long bare legs safely
says black even in a non-flying photo... David H. Ellis
E-mail with attached photo - 17 Sep 2004 - 12:25 PM
(Here is the reply from Dave Stejskal who leads tours for Field Guides. ~
Looks like a Buteogallus to me. I've enclosed a picture that I just
recently took of a juv. Zone-tailed and you can see the different bill
shape, the longer wings, and the gray lores, all of which contrast with
the hotline hawk. Hope that helps.
E-mail to Milt Moody - 19 Sep 2004 - 5:06 AM
Several of us down here in the regular range of Zone-tailed have looked
at the photos and concluded that it's consistent with Common Black-Hawk
instead of Zone-tailed. ~ Mark Stevenson, Tucson, AZ
E-mail From Christie Van to Chuck LaRue - 19 Sep 2004 -
Uuh, I'm inclined to think this might be a Black Hawk. The tarsus looks
really long for a Zonetail, and primaries do not reach the end of the
tail. Also appears to have more white on the terminal band than a Zonetail,
see attached photo. Is this what you're thinking?