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Raptor/Closures Update - January 2017

Gavin Emmons (Raptor/Condor Biologist) has sent us an update on raptor activity at the park in January as the breeding season is starting up.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and peregrine falcons (PEFA) have started reoccupying historical breeding areas and are actively defending territories and starting to inspect potential cliff cavity nest sites. So far, PRFA (3 pairs and 3 single birds) have been observed in 6 territories. Two PEFA pairs are occupying territories at Hawkins Peak and General Balconies, and a single PEFA appears to be defending the NE Section 15 territory north of North Chalone Peak. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Resurrection Wall: Single PRFA confirmed, pair likely
  • Teapot Dome / Tunnel / Egg: PRFA pair confirmed
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair confirmed
  • General Balconies / Machete: PEFA pair confirmed
  • Crowley Towers: Single PRFA confirmed, pair likely
  • Little Pinnacles / Yaks: Single PRFA confirmed, pair likely
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair confirmed
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair confirmed
  • NE Section 15: Single PEFA confirmed, pair possible

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

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

The following territories have not yet been monitored for falcon or other raptor activity:

  • Marion Canyon / Narrows
  • South Chalone Peak
  • North Wilderness Rock
  • South Wilderness Rock
  • Mating Rocks / Tugboat

So far, documented PRFA occupancy has been a bit lower at the beginning of 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 as of January 17th, 2017. Posters will be placed on the bulletin board fixtures near the Juniper Canyon trailhead and the Moses Spring trailhead, and advisory signs have been placed near relevant climbing / off-trail hiking areas. Advisory handouts 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 are setting up breeding territories in and around the park as well. Red-shouldered hawks are vocalizing and beginning to build nest constructs in the Pinnacles Campground and near the beginning of the South Wilderness Trail.

American kestrels pair are beginning to actively defend territories throughout the park, and great horned owls have been seen and heard vocalizing in Rose Canyon, Grassy Canyon, along the South Wilderness Trail, in lower Condor Gulch and upper Bear Gulch, and in the Pinnacles Campground. Golden eagles are beginning courtship displays and nest site inspections at North Chalone Peak, near Drywall Slide, and at the Eucalyptus Grove en route to the West Side entrance to the park.

Note that Emma Cox is back for a second season working with the raptor monitoring team for the 2017 season and will be actively conducting raptor surveys throughout the park. Feel free to let either 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 give it to me or deposit it in my box in the RRM Office.

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


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