The zone-tailed hawk (Buteo albonotatus) is a medium-sized hawk of warm, dry parts of the Americas. It is somewhat similar in plumage and flight style to a common scavenger, the turkey vulture, and may benefit from being able to blend into groups of vultures. It feeds on small terrestrial tetrapods of all kinds.
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.
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.