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Overview

Distribution

The Zone-tailed Hawk is found from the southwestern United States to Central and South America (Johnson et al. 2000).

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

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Global Range: RESIDENT: northern Baja California, central Arizona, southern New Mexico, and western Texas south locally to Panama (including Pearl Islands), eastern Colombia (Santa Marta region south to Magdalena; east of the Andes in Meta, Caqueta, and Amazonas), northern and southeastern Venezuela (Zulia to Anzoategui, northeastern Bolivar), Trinidad, Guyana, Surinam, eastern Brazil (Isla Marajo, Ceara, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Parana), Paraguay, northern and eastern Bolivia (Beni, Santa Cruz), western Ecuador, and west-central Peru (near Lima) (Sibley and Monroe 1990). Center of abundance in U.S. is in central Arizona, with about a dozen known pairs in both New Mexico and southwestern Texas and a few recent sightings in California (Snyder and Glinski 1998).

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Range

Arid sw US to n Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Physical Description

Morphology

The Zone-tailed Hawk is a dark hawk (black with brown cast) lacking the light morphology commonly found in many Buteo species. The tail has 2 to 3 light bands that are white when viewed from below. The under-wing is two-toned with black wing tips. The legs and beak of the Zone-tailed Hawk are yellow. The female is slightly larger than the males of this species. The immature hawk is a little darker with white spots around head and on under parts. The immature hawk has many narrow blackish bands on tail. (Johnson et al. 2000)

Range mass: 610 to 940 g.

Range length: 45 to 56 cm.

Range wingspan: 119 to 140 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Size

Length: 51 cm

Weight: 886 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Riparian forest and woodland, desert uplands, and mixed conifer forests (Johnson et al. 2000).

Range elevation: 0 to 2200 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; forest

Other Habitat Features: riparian

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Comments: Arid open country, especially open deciduous or pine-oak woodland (AOU 1983). Mesa and mountain country, often near watercouses (NGS 1983). Wooded canyons and tree-lined rivers along middle slopes of desert mountains. Open country with scattered trees or thickets, especially near marshes or streams (Costa Rica, Stiles and Skutch 1989).

Nests in various habitats and sites, ranging from small trees in lower desert, giant cottonwoods in riparian areas and mature conifers in high mountain regions; often selects nest site close to cliff or steep hillside (which may provide some shading part of day) adapts well to regular low-level human activity (if not too close to nest) (Snyder and Glinski 1988). Nests usually in large tree in U.S., often in cottonwood along canyon stream (Terres 1980). In Costa Rica, nests high in tree, often in gallery woodland (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Often uses same nest tree for many years (Snyder and Glinski 1988).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Partially migratory in northern part of breeding range. A few winter in mountains "west" [east?] of San Diego with occasional winter records from desert areas of Arizona, New Mexico, and southern Texas. Arrives on breeding grounds in U.S. mid-March to early April (Snyder and Glinski 1988).

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Trophic Strategy

The diet of the Zone-tailed Hawk includes many small vertebrates (birds, especially passerines; mammals, especially ground squirrels and chipmunks; amphibians and reptiles, particularly the common collared lizard and crevice spiny lizard; rarely fish) (Sherrod 1978). Prey that is exposed and becomes conditioned to the harmless presence of Turkey Vultures is likely prey of the Zone-tailed Hawk (Willis 1963, Zimmerman 1976, Synder and Synder 1991). The hawk is believed to mimic the Turkey Vulture in flight to take advantage of prey that is desensitized to the presence of vultures. Alternatively, dihedral wing shape may simply help stabilize low flight over rough terrain (Mueller 1972, 1976).

The Zone-tailed Hawk circles 40-105m above ground with wings in dihedral position before stooping on prey (McLaran and MacInnis 1977). Also circles at altitude of 15-60m; after sighting prey, continues to circle, dropping behind cover, turning swiftly and, when possible, approaching behind cover to within 0.5-2m of prey before striking (Snyder in Palmer 1988).

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

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Comments: Eats various small vertebrates (especially birds and lizards in U.S., also rodents, frogs, snakes, centipedes); pounces from low glide (Terres 1980, NGS 1983). In Arizona, observed foraging up to 26 km from nest (Palmer 1988). Usual hunting method: soars rapidly and widely over ground at altitude of about 50-500 ft (usually at lower end of this range).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Reproduction

Believed to be monogamous.

Mating System: monogamous

The Zone-tailed Hawk engages in spectacular courtship displays. During these displays aerial loops, dives, and rolls are performed. Heights of up to 500 m are achieved during these ritualized interactions between male and females. Female Zone-tailed Hawks lay one or two eggs per clutch. While in the southwestern United States these hawks breed only once, not much is known about their breeding habits in South America except that year-round residents breed only once.(Johnson et al. 2000)

Breeding season: March to May

Range eggs per season: 1 to 3.

Range time to hatching: 28 to 34 days.

Range fledging age: 28 to 35 days.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

Young are semi-altricial at hatching, with grey down. Female parent incubates, while male parent collects food for the female and young. (Baicich and Harrison 1997; Johnson et al. 2000)

Growth is gradual to slow during first 7 days; between days 7-21, growth is rapid. Cases of siblicide have been documented. (Johnson et al. 2000)

Parental Investment: altricial ; male parental care ; female parental care

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Egg dates: mid-April to mid-May in Arizona; late March to mid-May in Texas. Nesting begins November-December in Central America. Breeds February-March in Trinidad (Palmer 1988). Eggs laid mostly in latter half of April in north (U.S.). Clutch size 1-3 (usually 2). Incubation about 35 days, primarily by female. Young attain flight in 6-7 weeks (July-August in north).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Buteo albonotatus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 5 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CCTATACCTAATCTTCGGCGCCTGAGCCGGTATAGTCGGCACCGCCCTCAGCCTACTTATTCGTGCAGAGCTCGGCCAACCAGGCACACTCCTAGGTGACGACCAGATCTACAACGTAATCGTTACCGCACATGCCTTCGTAATAATTTTCTTTATAGTTATACCAATTATGATCGGAGGCTTCGGAAACTGACTTGTCCCACTCATAATCGGCGCCCCCGATATAGCCTTCCCACGCATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTTCCTCCATCCTTCCTCCTCCTCCTAGCCTCCTCAACAGTAGAAGCAGGAGCCGGCACTGGATGAACTGTCTATCCCCCACTAGCTGGCAACATAGCCCATGCCGGAGCTTCAGTAGACCTAGCCATCTTCTCCCTACACTTAGCCGGAGTCTCGTCCATTCTAGGAGCAATCAACTTCATCACAACCGCCATCAACATAAAACCCCCAGCCCTCTCCCAGTACCAAACACCCCTATTCGTATGATCTGTCCTCATTACCGCTGTCCTTCTACTACTCTCACTCCCAGTCCTAGCCGCCGGCATTACTATACTACTTACAGACCGAAACCTAAACACAACATTCTTTGACCCTGCTGGCGGAGGTGATCCCATCCTATACCAACATCTCNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Buteo albonotatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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