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The Zone-Tailed Hawk in California

J. Grinnell
2 (March-April)
From Field and Study
Online Text:

The Zone-tailed Hawk in California

Buteo abbreviatus was first known as a member of the United States fauna from a specimen taken by Cooper near San Diego, California, in 1862. Since then the species has been ascertained to occur not uncommonly in the southern portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, as well as, of course, south thru Mexico to British Guiana, whence it was originally described in 1848 by Cabanis.

Cooper's specimen (perhaps first recorded in Proc. Cal. AC. SC. IV, 1868, p. 7) is now number 4375 in the collection of the University of California Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Altho the stuffing has been remdved, giving it a collapsed appearance, it is still quite a good skin. The original, attached label, tho doubtless considerably faded, is perfectly legible. It is of the characteristic blue, lined, ledger paper; the legend, in ink, is in Cooper's own hand-writing, and reads as follows: “761 Buteo harlani [the latter name crossed out in pencil and 'zonocercus Sclater’ written above and beyond, also in lead pencil] ♂ | 20 mi N of San Diego Cal | Feb 23d '62 J. G. C || 20.25 56.50 16.25 I[ris] red brown, Bill | black and whitish horn, cere and feet yellow.”

The next record of the Zone-tailed Hawk in California was of an immature ♂ secured by C. B. Linton at National City, near San Diego, November 26, 1906. This example was originally recorded by Linton under the name “Urubitinga anthracina” (CONDOR IX, July 1507, p. 110), but this erroneous determination was corrected by him as soon as he became aware of his mistake (CONDOR X, July 1908, p. 181). The specimen is now, I believe, in Mr. Linton's priate collection: I had the opportunity of verifying its identity, comparing it with Arizona examples of the species in the collection of G. Frean Morcom, with which it agreed perfectly.

This museum has recently acquired two more examples of this bird, one of them, number 5494, collected by W. J. McCloskey “near the coast, 30 miles north of San Diego,” California, September 10, 1907; the other secured by F. Stephens from a local hunter who shot it in “April, 1908, ” five miles southeast of Tijuana, Lower California, which is less than twenty miles south of San Diego. The former thus constitutes the third record for the state of California.

Of the four examples above noted from the vicinity of San Diego, only the Cooper specimen is fully adult, that is, solid blackish with two-barred tail. The others have much white mottling particularly on breast and back of head, and their tails are many-barred. Mr. Stephens has kindly forwarded me two specimens taken by him in Arizona. Comparison with these as well as with those in the Morcom collection, show California examples of Buteo abbreviatus to be in no way different.


University of California, Berkeley, California

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