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2009 Raptor Nesting Update

The following is an excerpt from a recent memo released by Pinnacles' Raptor Biologist, Gavin Emmons. Please be aware that full climbing closures are still in effect. For details regarding closures see our Closures Update.

For those who don't know me, my name is Gavin Emmons, and I have returned for a seventh season as the raptor biologist at Pinnacles National Monument. I just wanted to send everyone an update as to the status of raptors for the past month.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) have returned to Pinnacles and are establishing territories and engaging in courtship displays. A peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair that nested last year – for the fourth consecutive year –wintered at the park. The male and female peregrine falcons have both been observed in the Hawkins area, calling to each other and engaging in courtship displays. The first prairie falcon pair was confirmed at Crowley Towers on 6 January. At present the following have been documented: 6 territories with PRFA pairs, 2 more territories with single prairie falcons, and the PEFA territory. These are listed below:

  • Scout Peak: Single PRFA, pair possible
  • Teapot Dome / Egg: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks): PRFA pair
  • South / North Balconies: PRFA pair
  • Machete: PRFA pair
  • Drywall: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: Single PRFA, pair possible

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding on normal annual occupancy and courtship schedules, and possibly a bit early. Some of the unoccupied territories listed above may have active falcon pairs that arrive later in the season by February or March. A PRFA pair is again occupying the Machete territory, and advisories are in effect to include the upper southwest face of Machete as a partial advisory area for the season.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, Little Pinnacles, and on the path to Frog / Hand to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated!

Gavin Emmons, Raptor Biologist

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