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  • Tom Higgins Shares His Recollections Of A Classic

    We selected the streak we did climb because a side view suggested it might not be as steep at the top as other lines we examined, but the view from underneath still shocked us so much we just stopped looking and thinking about what was up there.

March/April Raptor Update

Hello Everyone -

Here is an update as to the status of raptors at Pinnacles for the past month.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) are finally choosing nest sites and incubating eggs. The peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair at Hawkins is also incubating eggs, and a 2nd PEFA pair has been newly documented at Crowley, likely responsible for abandonment of that territory by the PRFA pair previosuly there. At present the following have been documented: 8 nesting PRFA pairs, 3 more PRFA territories with nesting unconfirmed, a PEFA nesting pair, and a PEFA territorial pair. These are listed below:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Egg: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • South Balcones: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Citadel: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Pig Canyon: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Drywall: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair, nest confirmed
  • NE Section 15: PRFA pair
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • Little Pinnacles: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair, nest confirmed
  • Crowley Towers / North Balconies: PEFA pair

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

  • Scout Peak
  • Goat Rock
  • Central High Peaks
  • Canyon North of Willow Spring
  • Discovery Wall
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Frog/Hand
  • Prescribed Burn Cliffs / Gargoyle / Neglected Valley
  • Machete Ridge
  • Guard Rock
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock
  • Marion Canyon / Narrows

REMEMBER! This does NOT mean these areas are open for climbing. Only that they are currently unoccupied.

In general, falcon activity this season seems to be proceeding on schedule in regards to annual nesting schedules. The most unusual observations have been of a PEFA pair at Crowley Towers, and PRFA pairs at both North Chalone Peak and NE Section 15 (the area just north of the fire tower and peak summit). The PEFA pair at Crowley is the first documented occupying a territory on the west side of the park in over 50 years, and likely pushed out the territorial PRFA pair that was preparing to nest in the area earlier in the season. The PRFA at North Chalone Peak represent the first time that 2 territorial pairs have ever been confirmed in the area.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect and will likely be updated within the next week, now that PRFA and PEFA are settled into territories and nesting. 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!

Other raptors observed in the park in March and early April are also beginning to nest and occupy territories. Nests have been confirmed for golden eagles (GOEA), red-tailed hawks (RTHA), and red-shouldered hawks (RSHA) at the following areas:

  • North Chalone Peak: GOEA nest
  • Butterfield Canyon: RTHA nest
  • Rose Canyon: RTHA nest
  • Western Front: RTHA nest
  • Lower Condor Gulch: RTHA nest
  • Pinnacles Campground: 2 RSHA nests
  • Bench Trail / Fire Road junction: RSHA nest
  • McCabe Canyon: RSHA nest

Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors. American kestrels are active throughout the park and beginning to select nesting sites. A white-tailed kite pair may be beginning nest efforts east of the Bacon barn. A long-eared owl nest and a RSHA nest are also active in the Regan Ranch Canyon... Please talk with Linda Regan first if you are interested in walking on her property!

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. 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 Melling in person.

In particular, thanks to the Trails crew, Resources weed crew, Scott Scherbinski, Autumn Young, Jennie Jones, Brent Johnson, Paul Johnson, Richard Neihardt, 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. Thanks!

GAVIN EMMONS
Raptor / Condor Biologist
5000 Highway 146, Paicines, CA 95043
831-389-4486 x276
Pinnacles National Park


Pinnacles News

  • Tom Higgins Shares His Recollections Of A Classic

    We selected the streak we did climb because a side view suggested it might not be as steep at the top as other lines we examined, but the view from underneath still shocked us so much we just stopped looking and thinking about what was up there.

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