Zone-tailed Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawks are similar in plumage and flight style to Turkey Vultures and often mix with them in order to confuse the Hawks’ prey and make it easy for the Hawks to capture them.

Zone-tailed Hawks are grayish-black to almost black with light-gray barring on the flight feathers’ underside and three to four white bands across their black tails. They have dark trailing edges on their wings. Their bills and legs are yellow.

Immature Zone-tailed Hawks have finely barred outer tail feathers and tails. They have small white spots on the breast. They also show dark trailing edges on the wings similar to the adults.

  • Buteo albonotatus
  • Male
    • Length: 17.7 – 22.1 in (45 – 56 cm)
    • Weight: 21.4 – 23.5 oz (607 – 667 g)
    • Wingspan: 46.9 – 55.1 in (119 – 140 cm)
  • Female
    • Weight: 29.8 – 33.0 oz (845 – 937 g)
    • Wingspan: 46.9 – 55.1 in (119 – 140 cm)


Zone-tailed Hawks can only be spotted in a few states along the border during the breeding season. In winter, they migrate further south into Mexico. In South America, Zone-tailed Hawks remain all year.

Habitat And Diet

They hunt along canyons and cliffs, often in high elevations, and can be spotted soaring over desert and scrub. They will also hunt down to coastal plains.

Mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians make up the diet of Zone-tailed Hawks. They hunt by flying low and using the landscape as a screen to hide them until it’s too late.

Zone-tailed Hawk Call:


Nests of Zone-tailed Hawks are built using sticks from oak and pine and set within the crotch of a tall tree, preferably cottonwood, pine, or oak. The nests are usually bowl-shaped lined with bark, leaves, pine needles, and moss, and may be out in the open or concealed by leaves.

Other times, the nests may be found on rocky cliffs. The female lays one to three eggs which she incubates for twenty-eight to thirty-five days.

Fun Fact:

Zone-tailed Hawks’ older sibling often kills the younger one as it may be considered a rival for food.