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Raptor Monitoring / Closures Update (May / June)

The raptor breeding season is starting to wind down, with many nests fledging young. Prairie falcons (PRFA) and peregrine falcons (PEFA) are wrapping up nest efforts, and fledglings are taking their first flights from nest sites. For this year, six of nine territorial PRFA pairs nested, and 2 PEFA pairs nested at Hawkins Peak and General Balconies. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: PRFA nest, successfully fledged young
  • Teapot Dome / Tunnel / Egg: PRFA nest, successfully fledged young
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA nest, failed during egg incubation
  • General Balconies / Machete: PEFA nest, nearing fledge
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA nest, successfully fledged young
  • South Balconies: PRFA nest, nearing fledge
  • Citadel: PRFA pair, non-nesting
  • Little Pinnacles / Yaks / Hand: PRFA pair, non-nesting
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA nest, failed during egg incubation
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA nest, successfully fledged young
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair, non-nesting

The following territories were unoccupied this year, with no prairie falcons observed within them:

  • Pig Canyon
  • North Balconies
  • Scout Peak
  • Western Front
  • Discovery Wall
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles
  • Frog
  • Piedras Bonitas / Gargoyle / Prescribed Burn Cliffs
  • D. Soto Canyon
  • Guard Rock
  • Rocks West of Chalone Housing
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat
  • NE Section 15
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • Marion Canyon / Narrows
  • South Wilderness Rock

PRFA productivity has been lower in the 2016 season compared to past years, ranking with 2008 and 2015 as the poorest productivity efforts on record for the past 15 years. We will continue to monitor PRFA and other raptor nesting efforts annually to try to tease out trends over time.

PEFA occupancy and productivity have been more consistent with efforts in recent years, though the Hawkins nest failed during egg incubation earlier in the season.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are still in effect. Advisories were updated in April and should be lifted by early July. The temporary closure for the southern half of Machete was put in place in late May, and will remain in effect until further notice.

Besides PRFA and PEFA, other raptor species have been nesting more productively this year. A combined 25 nests have been confirmed for raptor species including red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, Cooper's hawks, American kestrels, and long-eared and great horned owls. Additionally, a golden eagle nest observed along Highway 146 en route to the west side of PINN is still active and should be fledging young soon.

I wanted to give a big thank you to Emma Cox, the raptor monitoring intern this year, and Megan Gnekow, a long-time raptor monitoring volunteer. Both have contributed excellent observations this season. Other staff and volunteers who have documented great observations recently include Joseph Belli, Mike Baird, Jennie Jones, Aly Schmidt, Kris Vanesky, Alacia Welch, Paul Johnson, Joey Negreann, and Linda Regan.

I really appreciate all the staff who have continued to provide me with raptor observations this year; 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 at least send me a quick email noting what you have seen.

Thanks for 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
831-389-4486 x276

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