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Peregrine Falcon Pair Returns to Pinnacles National Monument

Pinnacles National Monument News Release

Pinnacles National Monument has completed its 18th year of raptor monitoring. This season was a successful breeding season for sensitive nesting species including prairie falcons and golden eagles. This year also marked the first time in over 40 years that a peregrine falcon pair occupied a territory at Pinnacles.

Peregrine falcons were last observed nesting in Pinnacles National Monument in 1957 and just outside the monument in 1962. Except for an occasional migrating pair, peregrine falcons were not observed at Pinnacles from the 1960s to the 1990s. From 1989 to 1991, a program of placing peregrine eggs and chicks into prairie falcon nest, called cross-fostering, was instituted at Pinnacles. The goad of this program was to increase peregrine populations and hopefully reintroduce them to Pinnacles.

Peregrine falcons were federally listed as endangered in 1970 due to pesticide poisoning and resulting eggshell thinning (largely from DDT and DDE). Since then, peregrine falcons have slowly increased in numbers, thanks to U.S. bans on DDT in 1973, as well as the success of captive breeding programs throughout the country.

This year's peregrine falcon pair was first observed on March 3rd, with observations becoming more regular throughout the breeding season. The pair aggressively defended a territory in the Hawkins peak area by diving (stooping) upon a prairie falcon pair (which were using an adjacent territory), turkey vultures, and even California condors. Although the pair did attempt to mate several times and inspected potential nest sites, they did not nest this year.

The return of peregrine falcons to Pinnacles National Monument reinforces the importance of the raptor advisory areas that are in place from January to July. All of Pinnacles' visitors play an important role in ensuring the continuing raptor diversity of the park. We thank all of the climbers and hikers for their patience and support of our efforts to protect our spectacular birds of prey at Pinnacles. "Without your cooperation in avoiding the advisory areas, this program could not be the success that it is," stated Park Superintendent, Cicely Muldoon.

For more information regarding peregrine falcon activity at Pinnacles National Monument, or the park's raptor monitoring program, please call the office of Research and Resource Management at 831-389-4485 extension 223. General park information can be obtained by visiting the Park Web Site or by calling 831-389-4485 extension 0.

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