- Raptor Monitoring Update for May to June 2019
(posted: Jun 19, 2019)
The breeding raptor season is in full swing at Pinnacles National Park, with many species finishing up their nesting efforts. Here is an update on raptor activity through May and June.
Rain Alters Plans for Condor Release
posted: October 31, 2008
Due to the series of storms predicted to hit central California over the next several days, Pinnacles will not attempt to release two juvenile California condors on Saturday, November 1st, as previously planned. "We choose not to risk the health and safety of Pinnacles newest juvenile condors by exposing them to inclement weather immediately upon release into an unfamiliar environment" explained Eric Brunnemann, Superintendent of Pinnacles National Monument.
Because of the high number of visitors who normally attend this event, the park will still offer many of the same activities throughout the day. The event area will be relocated to the field adjacent to Pinnacles Visitor Center in the campground with activities from 8:00am to 3:00pm. All of the ranger programs, information booths and education tables will still occur, and biologists will be on hand to answer questions.
New and rescheduled programs:
- Friday, October 31
- 7:00pm - Welcome program at the campground amphitheater
- Saturday, November 1
- 8:00am, 9:00am and 10:00am – Ranger/condor biologist led walks to the condor viewing area, special access to this normally closed section of the park will be allowed via these walks. Walks will allow views of this seldom seen portion of the park and get a rare glimpse at the flight pen and the captive juvenile condors. In addition, it will offer the potential to see wild flying condors in the vicinity of the flight pen. Programs are limited to 20 people per hike. Hikes will depart from Pinnacles Visitor Center. Please register for a hike upon arrival at the event.
NOTE: Severe Weather May Cancel Hikes.
- 1:30pm – Condor Talk by John Moir at Pinnacles Visitor Center, (author of Return of the Condor) [tentative]
- 6:30pm - Amphitheater Program by a Pinnacles wildlife/condor biologist at the campground amphitheater
The two condors previously scheduled to be released Saturday will be released without a public event at a later date. The other five will remain in captivity for another one to two additional weeks to help ensure that the free-flying birds remain nearby for biologists to monitor.
"We are encouraged by the success of this program and the support of the local communities and park neighbors," said Brunnemann. "The return of the California condor to the central coast of California provides excellent opportunities for condor viewing in the park, and we are proud to be a part of the recovery of this magnificent species."
All of Pinnacles' releases have been "soft releases" using a double-door trap because it is less stressful on the birds. This technique relies on using a special trap built into the side of the flight pen, one door being open to the inside of the pen and the other to outside and freedom. The interior door normally remains open to allow the condors to become familiar with the interior of the trap. For release purposes, once a condor enters the trap, the inner door is closed and the outer door is opened to allow it to fly free.
This is the fifth release of the endangered birds at Pinnacles. Ultimately, project biologists anticipate building a sustainable population of up to 30 condors at Pinnacles, a historic condor nesting area, over the next several years. The reintroduction of California condors to Pinnacles is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Ventana Wildlife Society and Pinnacles Partnership in collaboration with the California Condor Recovery Team.
Pinnacles Partnership, a friends group formed by several local citizens in 2006, supports projects at Pinnacles that are critical to protecting and restoring park lands. These projects range from supporting condor recovery efforts at Pinnacles, celebrating the park's centennial anniversary, and supporting schools' abilities to use Pinnacles as an outdoor classroom. This non-profit organization exists thanks to caring contributors in the community.
Ventana Wildlife Society, which has been conducting condor releases in Big Sur, California since 1997, teamed up with the National Park Service in 2002 to reintroduce condors to Pinnacles National Monument.
The San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho and the Oregon Zoo breed condors destined for release in California, Arizona, and Baja, Mexico. The Pinnacles condor release is an important link in the overall condor recovery effort.
From a population low of 22 birds in the mid-1980s, condors have rebounded through intensive captive breeding efforts and rigorous educational programs explaining human-caused threats to condors' survival. Especially important is work that the Institute for Wildlife Studies is doing to demonstrate the connection of lead ammunition fragments to condor mortality and the availability of non-lead alternatives. As of September 30, 2008, the total world population of California condors was 165 in captivity and 162 are in the wild.