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  • Raptor Closures Update - July, 2021

    The breeding raptor season is finally wrapping up at Pinnacles National Park and I wanted to provide a final update for 2021. All Raprot closures have been lifted.

Raptor Monitoring Update for February 2013

Prairie falcons (PRFA) have returned to Pinnacles and are occupying territories, engaging in courtship displays, and inspecting cliff cavities for use as nest sites. The peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair at Hawkins is also actively defending the area and inspecting cliff cavity sites.

At present the following have been documented: 8 territories with PRFA pairs, 3 more territories with a single PRFA, and 1 territory with 1 PEFA. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: PRFA pairEgg / Chaos Crag / Tunnel: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair
  • Drywall: PRFA pair
  • Pig Canyon: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • Willow Spring Slide: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • North of Little Pinnacles (Yaks): Single PRFA, pair possible
  • Machete Ridge: Single PRFA, pair possible

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

  • Scout Peak
  • Central High Peaks
  • Canyon North of Willow Spring
  • Discovery Wall
  • Frog / Hand
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Prescribed Burn Cliffs / Gargoyle Area
  • Citadel
  • D. Soto Canyon
  • Guard Rock
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock
  • Marion Canyon

This does NOT mean that the areas are open for climbing, just that there is currently no raptor occupation. Check closures for the current climbing status.

In general, PRFA activity this season seems to be proceeding on schedule in regards to annual occupancy and courtship schedules. Some of the unoccupied territories listed above will likely have active falcon pairs that arrive later in the season by March or early April. Advisories are in effect to include the upper southwest face of Machete as a partial advisory area for the season. Advisories may be updated later in the spring if PRFA pair occupancy at Discovery Wall is confirmed and nesting is attempted.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories went into effect as of January 22nd. 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 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!

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past 4 weeks, with pairs confirmed at North Chalone Peak, the south end of South Wilderness Trail, and outside of the west side of the park at the Eucalyptus Grove.

Other raptors observed in the park in February include:

  • American kestrels
  • red-tailed hawks
  • red-shouldered hawks

and have been seen in the Pinnacles Campground, near the Bacon barn, in McCabe Canyon, and in the South Wilderness, perching in valley oaks and sycamores and vocalizing. Cooperís and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors. Owl species have been somewhat quiet in terms of early season vocalizations, but great-horned owls, western screech-owls, northern saw-whet owls, and barn owls have been active along riparian corridors, in the Pinnacles Campground, in housing areas, and in the bottomlands.

Thank you to all the staff that 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. For those that donít know, Nate Melling has returned for a second year to assist with raptor monitoring efforts after an excellent job broadening the list of documented nests last year. 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, or give it to me or Nate in person.

In particular, thanks to Jennie Jones, Arianna Punzalan, Paul Johnson, Joseph Belli, Dan Ryan, Joseph Webb, Linda Regan, 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.




Gavin Emmons
Raptor / Condor Biologist
Pinnacles National Park
5000 Highway 146
Paicines, CA 95043
Office: 831-389-4486 x276

Pinnacles News

  • Raptor Closures Update - July, 2021

    The breeding raptor season is finally wrapping up at Pinnacles National Park and I wanted to provide a final update for 2021. All Raprot closures have been lifted.

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