The Zone-tailed Hawk is believed to mimic the V-shaped wing pattern of the Turkey Vulture to take advantage of prey that is desensitized to the presence of vultures. Alternatively, the V-shaped wing pattern may simply help stabilize the bird during low flight over rough terrain. Swooping on prey from up to 105 meters above the ground, the Zone-tailed Hawk primarily feeds on small birds, small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.
Entirely black plumage. Paler, barred, flight feathers. Yellow legs and cere. Long, broad, dark tail with white bands (adults have 3 or 4). Hooked beak. Wings held in a shallow V during flight. Immatures have scattered white spotting on its underparts and narrow grayish tail bands. Sexes similar. The females are slightly larger than the males. 18.5 to 21.5 inches in length.
Forested canyons and riverside woodlands.
2-3 white eggs sometimes lightly marked with brown. The eggs have a 35 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in ? days. The nest is made from sticks and built in a tall tree or cliff.
- Near Wild Animal Park, Escondido