Zone-tailed hawk

COMMON NAME: Zone-tailed hawk

Buteo albonotatus

The zone-tailed hawk black with a brown cast. The tail has two or three light bands. The under-wing is two-toned with black wing tips. The legs and beak are yellow. The female is slightly larger than the males. The immature hawk is a little darker with white spots around head and under parts. The immature hawk has many narrow blackish tail bands.


The zone-tailed hawk is found from the southwestern United States to Central and South America.


Riparian forest and woodland, desert uplands, and mixed conifer forests

The zone-tailed hawk engages in spectacular courtship displays of aerial loops, dives, and rolls. Female zone-tailed hawks lay one or two eggs per clutch. In the southwestern United States, these hawks are known to breed only once. Year-round residents in South America also breed only once. The female incubates while the male collects food for the female and their young. Both the male and female are very aggressive when guarding the nest and are aggressively territorial when nestlings are present. Cases of siblicide have been documented.


The zone-tailed hawk eats birds, especially passerines, mammals, especially ground squirrels and chipmunks, amphibians and reptiles, particularly the common collared lizard and crevice spiny lizard, and rarely fish.

Not federally threatened or endangered. Threatened in Texas.