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April 2016 Raptor / Climbing Closures Update

Hey Everyone -

Here is an update on raptor activity at the park in March to early April as the breeding season develops.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and peregrine falcons (PEFA) have reoccupied historical breeding areas and are proceeding to lay and incubate eggs. So far, 8 PRFA pairs have been observed (with 6 nests confirmed) as well as 2 single birds in different territories, and 2 PEFA pairs are occupying territories at Hawkins Peak and General Balconies. These are listed below:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA nesting pair confirmed
  • Teapot Dome / Egg: PRFA nesting pair confirmed
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair confirmed
  • General Balconies / Machete: PEFA nesting pair confirmed
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA nesting pair confirmed
  • Canton North of Willow Spring: PRFA nesting pair confirmed
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA nesting pair confirmed
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair confirmed
  • Drywall Slide: PRFA pair confirmed
  • Citadel: Single PRFA confirmed, pair possible
  • Frog / Hand / Piedras Bonitas / Prescribed Burn Cliffs: Single PRFA confirmed, pair possible

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

  • Pig Canyon
  • North Balconies
  • Scout Peak
  • Western Front
  • Discovery Wall
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Yaks / Little Pinnacles
  • Tugboat
  • D. Soto Canyon
  • Guard Rock
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • NE Section 15
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock
  • Marion Canyon / Narrows

So far, documented PRFA occupancy has been a bit lower for the 2016 season compared to past years, but we will continue to conduct surveys to determine if PRFA pairs arrive late to currently unoccupied territories.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect and have been revised as of March 2016. Posters placed on the bulletin board fixtures near the Juniper Canyon trailhead and the Moses Spring trailhead will be updated soon, and advisory signs have been placed near relevant climbing / off-trail hiking areas. Advisory handouts are up to date and should be available in the Visitor Center and Visitor Contact Station, and are also available on the PINN website.

In addition to PRFA and PEFA, other raptor species have been confirmed nesting in and around the park as well, including red-shouldered hawks (2 nests), red-tailed hawks (1 nest), golden eagles (1 nest), American kestrels (1 nest), long-eared owls (2 nests), and great-horned owls (1 nest). More raptor pairs should be settling in to nest in the next couple of weeks, so we'll keep you updated.

I want to extend a special thanks to Emma Cox and Megan Gnekow for their raptor monitoring efforts this season. Emma is working as a wildlife intern and Megan is a long-time raptor monitoring volunteer. Both have made excellent raptor observations and have confirmed some valuable nesting records so far in 2016. Feel free to let any of us know if you have any questions or observations to report.

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.

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, you can also feel free to 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

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