Birds Of Southern California

Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus)

An rare and uncommon raptor in Orange County however a reliable sighting usually occurs each September through March. Typically viewed is a lone Zone-tailed Hawk but I've seen a pair (both at once) at El Toro Memorial Park in December 2014 that more than likely winter in the Saddleback Mountains. It's easily distinguishable by 2 obvious whites bands on its tail (though the ZTH has 3 to 4 white bands) along with a yellow bill and dark under carriage. The most common sightings of this species has been in the Lake Forest area near Trabuco Road. Here's more from Wikipedia: With respect to the U.S.: Zone-tailed hawks range from parts of southern Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas. Zone-tails sometimes wander out of their normal range, and the bird was once recorded in Nova Scotia. Zone-tailed hawks can adapt to various habitats across their broad range, including both closed and open ones and wet and dry ones. Often, the largest numbers are found in rocky areas with access to water. They often reside in coniferous or pine-oak forests as well as timbered canyonland, hilly riverine woods, dry open boscage and scrub, humid forests and overgrown marshes. They may forage over ranches and even semi-desert, but always need at least scattered tree thickets for nesting. They may be distributed in elevation from sea-level to 3,000 m (9,800 ft), though are mainly found below 1,500 m (4,900 ft) in the north and below 500 m (1,600 ft) in the southern reaches of the breeding range. The zone-tailed hawk is a fairly large but slender Buteo hawk. Grown birds are 46 to 56 cm (18 to 22 in) in length with a wingspan of about 117–140 cm (46–55 in). The zone-tailed is comparable in length and wingspan to common large Buteos found to the north such as Swainson's and red-tailed hawk, but may weigh considerably less. Their body mass can range from 565–1,080 g (1.246–2.381 lb). In measurements, the sexes are close in size, but the female, at an average of 900 g (2.0 lb), is much heavier and bulkier than the male, at an average of 637 g (1.404 lb). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 36.5–46 cm (14.4–18.1 in), the fairly long tail is 19.4–23.5 cm (7.6–9.3 in) and the tarsus is 6.7–7.8 cm (2.6–3.1 in).[2] The adult plumage is mostly blackish. The notable exception is that the flight feathers are barred with lighter gray, which can appear solid silver-gray from a distance. The tail has three or four bands (the "zones" of the common name), white from below and light gray from above, of which the one second from the tip is particularly broad and conspicuous. The cere and legs are yellow, the lores are light gray and a light touch of white may be seen on the face. Immatures are similar except for small white spots on the breast and tails with narrow gray and black bands and a broad dark tip. The zone-tailed hawk adults resemble the common black hawk but are distinctly more slender in flight and overall small, and they have more white bars on the tail. Other Buteo hawks in their dark phase, especially the broad-winged hawk, may appear similar but often have more silvery coloration on the wings and are broader-winged.[2] The call is a loud scream, a somewhat typical Buteo call, dropping in pitch at the end, kra kree-kree-kree-kree. In at least some birds, there is an abrupt rise in pitch (like a break to a falsetto voice) in the middle and an equally abrupt drop back down. They are most often heard vocalizing when engaging in breeding displays at the beginning of the mating season. When disturbed at the nest, they may utter a long, lower-pitched raaaaauu. More info can be found here: