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Raptor Monitoring Update for March / April

Hey Everyone -

Here is an update on raptor activity at the park through mid April as the breeding season progresses.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and peregrine falcons (PEFA) are actively nesting, with nesting pairs currently incubating eggs. For the 2018 season, 10 PRFA pairs have been confirmed. Of these, nine breeding pairs are nesting. Two PEFA pairs are also actively nesting, at Hawkins Peak and General Balconies, and are currently incubating eggs. For information on territory locations and rock formations, refer to Brad Young's climber's guidebook to Pinnacles.

PRFA and PEFA breeding efforts for 2018 are listed below:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair confirmed, nest active
  • The Egg (on west side of High Peaks): PRFA pair confirmed, nest active
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair confirmed, nest active
  • General Balconies: PEFA pair confirmed, nest active
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair confirmed, nest active
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair confirmed, nest active
  • Little Pinnacles / Yaks Wall: PRFA pair confirmed, nest active
  • Piedras Bonitas Cliffs: PRFA pair confirmed, nest active
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair confirmed, nest active
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair confirmed, nest active
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair confirmed, currently not nesting

The number of nesting PRFA pairs for 2018 is consistent with the 30-year average for the park. As the season proceeds, I'll provide updates on nest productivity, hatching of young, and rearing of nestlings.

See photo below of a prairie falcon male adult, incubating eggs at one of the active nests:

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories will remain in effect until the end of June 2018. Posters have been 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 have also been quite active at the park. Red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks. American kestrels, and large owl species have been documented actively nesting. Confirmed nest numbers include 4 red-shouldered hawk nests, 4 red-tailed hawk nests, 2 great horned owl nest, 1 long-eared owl nest, and at least 1 barn owl nest.

See photo below of two great horned owl nestlings at an active nest in the bottomlands. Note that the nestlings are different ages, with the one in back more developed. Owls are known for laying eggs at different times, and raising nestlings of sometimes markedly different ages:

See photo below of a long-eared owl adult sitting at an active nest... Note the white fluff just right of the adult - this is one of the nestlings currently being reared at the site:

Finally, see photo below of an active red-shouldered hawk nest, visible from near the Bacon Barn. The adult pair is feeding very young nestlings in this image:

A big thanks to Kimber Godfrey and Megan Gnekow for their ongoing and excellent raptor observations. Kimber is our current wildlife intern and is working with the raptor monitoring team at Pinnacles, Megan is continuing her multi-year volunteering efforts to assist with raptor monitoring on weekends, and just recently confirmed the great horned owl and long-eared owl nests active this season. Both Kimber and Megan have contributed a substantial amount of information to raptor monitoring and their efforts are much appreciated! If you see us in the office or field, feel free to let me, Kimber, or Megan 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 * Wildlife Specialist *
5000 Highway 146, Paicines, CA 95043 * 831-389-4486 x276 *

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