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Raptor Monitoring Update - February 2012

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and the Hawkins peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair are engaging in courtship displays and inspecting potential nest sites.

At present the following have been documented: 10 territories with PRFA pairs and the PEFA territory. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair
  • Egg / Tunnel / Teapot Dome: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • Hanging Valley: PRFA pair
  • Citadel: PRFA pair
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair
  • General Balconies / Machete: PRFA pair
  • Canyon North of Willow Spring / Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair
  • Drywall: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair

The following territories are currently unoccupied, with no falcons observed within them:

  • Scout Peak
  • Little Pinnacles
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Prescribed Burn Cliffs / Gargoyle Area
  • Frog / Hand
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock
  • Marion Canyon / Narrows

South Chalone Peak has not yet been checked for raptor territorial status.

The PRFA pair at Hanging Valley appears to consist of two young birds that are considering occupying the area but have also inspected the Reservoir and Little Pinnacles for potential nest cavity options.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, and Little Pinnacles, to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the 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!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past month. A nesting pair has been confirmed incubating eggs at the Eucalyptus Grove along Highway 146 approaching the west side entrance of Pinnacles. A territorial eagle pair at North Chalone Peak is also actively preparing a historical nest site for likely use this season.

Other raptors observed in the park in February and early March include American kestrels, and red-shouldered hawks have been seen preparing nest sites and vocalizing at the Pinnacles Campground, Bacon barn area, McCabe Canyon, Bench Trail junction with the fire road, and the Regan Ranch Canyon. Red-tailed hawks are also preparing nest sites, with pairs documented at Butterfield Canyon, Rose Canyon, McCabe Canyon, South Wilderness Rock, Chalone housing, Marion Canyon, Eagle Rock, North Balconies, Western Front, Condor Gulch, and Frog/Hand. Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors, and have been observed near the Reservoir, along the North and South Wilderness Trails, near the Bear Gulch and Moses Spring parking lots, the Chaparral Area, Pinnacles Campground, McCabe Canyon, and throughout the bottomlands. White-tailed kite pairs have been observed in the bottomlands near the Bacon barn and north near the Butterfield barn. Great-horned owl vocalizations have been documented near the Chalone housing area, in lower Condor Gulch, and in the Pinnacles Campground. Barn owl pairs have been observed roosting in cliff cavities at the slide east of Chalone housing and Marion Canyon, and in a valley oak cavity in Rose Canyon.

Thank you to all the staff who have continued to provide me with raptor observations; every detail on raptor behavior helps to provide a more complete picture of raptor breeding at the park. If anyone on staff wishes to report raptor observations, I would greatly appreciate it if you please fill out a wildlife observation card, and deposit it in my box in the RRM Office. You can also report observations directly to me, Nate Melling, and Kim Sawyer, and we will make sure your observations get documented on observation cards. In particular, thanks to Paul Johnson, Jennifer Tiehm, Nate Melling, Kim Sawyer, Tessa Christensen, Liz Allard, Jennie Jones, Dan Ryan, and Alacia Welch for raptor observations. I appreciate the support!

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, please contact me through email or extension 276. Thanks!


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    In celebration of National Park Week, Pinnacles National Monument will be offering FREE weekend admission for the weekend of April 15th & 16th, as well as, the weekend of April 22nd & 23rd.

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