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  • Raptor Closures Update - July, 2021

    The breeding raptor season is finally wrapping up at Pinnacles National Park and I wanted to provide a final update for 2021. All Raprot closures have been lifted.

Raptor Monitoring/Climbing Closures Update

Here is a raptor monitoring update for the past three weeks. Prairie falcons (PRFAs) and the Hawkins peregrine falcon (PEFA) pair have established territories and are inspecting potential cliff-cavity sites for nesting, with copulations and food exchanges from males to females becoming more frequent. At present there are 12 territories with PRFA pairs, 2 more territories with single prairie falcons, and the PEFA territory. These are listed below:

  • Goat Rock / Scout Peak : PRFA pair
  • Teapot Dome / Egg: PRFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • Pig Canyon : Single PRFA pair
  • Pipsqueak Pinnacles / Scout Peak: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair
  • Little Pinnacles (Yaks) / Frog / Hand: PRFA pair
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair
  • Machete / Citadel: PRFA pair
  • North Wilderness Rock / Mating Rocks: Single PRFA, pair likely
  • D. Soto Canyon / High Trail West of Chalone Housing: PRFA pair
  • Drywall Slide: PRFA pair

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

  • Resurrection Wall
  • North Balconies
  • Prescribed Burn Cliffs

South Wilderness Rock, South Chalone Peak, and Marion Canyon have not yet been checked for raptor territorial status.

Prairie falcon pairs have been documented at South Balconies and at Machete Ridge this year. No prairie falcon nests have ever been confirmed at Machete, but the pair PRFA pair in the territory has been observed inspecting historical raven nests on several occasions. Active prairie falcon nests at Balconies and Machete could set up the possibility of the majority of west side climbing routes being under advisory this year. I will keep everyone posted on the developments! Otherwise, PRFA pairs are actively engaging in courtship displays, copulations, food exchanges, and site inspections in preparation for egg-laying and incubation.

The peregrine falcon pair has been observed perching at and circling above Hawkins Peak, engaging in copulations and nest site inspections, and stooping on turkey vultures and California condors in the Hawkins area.

Please note that climbing and hiking advisories are in effect. Raptor advisory signs have been placed at Hawkins, Scout, Balconies, Little Pinnacles, and on the path to Frog / Hand to protect these sensitive species from the pressures of hiking and climbing during the upcoming nesting season. 2 climbers were observed climbing on Hand in the Frog/Hand territory within the past 2 weeks. Any assistance park staff can provide in diverting visitors from advisory areas, and reporting incidents of climbers and hikers in advisory areas to law enforcement staff, is highly appreciated

Golden eagles have also been seen regularly in and near the park over the past three weeks. Of note is a golden eagle nest that was recently confirmed within park boundaries, on the west side of North Chalone Peak . This marks the first golden eagle nest documented within the park in several years. The golden eagle pair at the Eucalyptus Grove near the west side entrance to the park has also been confirmed nesting, currently incubating eggs at the historical site used for the past 4 years. A golden eagle pair has also been seen in Frog Canyon, ranging east to Drywall slide, and an additional golden eagle pair has been observed circling near the condor facility ridge on several occasions. Near Little Pinnacles, a single adult golden eagle with white-mottled plumage was also seen. This bird represents a rare but naturally occurring race of golden eagles rarely seen throughout the country, and documented nesting at Pinnacles National Monument occasionally in past years.

Red-tailed hawks have been observed throughout the park, with pairs active in the Kingman Land North, Upper Condor Gulch, South Wilderness North, Grassy Canyon, Western Front, Crowley Drainage, and Frog/Hand areas. Red-tailed hawk pairs are currently preparing stick nests on pine trees and cliff ledges, adding new nest material to sites. Red-tailed hawks have also been observed circling over Willow Spring Slide, near Guard Rock, and along the North Wilderness Trail.

Red-shouldered hawk pairs have been confirmed in the following territories: Kingman Land North, Pinnacles Campground, McCabe Canyon, the Bench Area, and the South Wilderness. Like red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered pairs are actively preparing nest sites, adding nest material to new and existing sites in riparian trees, and defending territories from other raptors with stooping and vocalizing.

Other raptors observed in the park in February include American kestrels, and the increasing presence of turkey vultures above the High Peaks . Cooper?s and sharp-shinned hawks are active throughout the park along riparian corridors, and have been observed in the Kingman Land North, near the Reservoir, along the North and South Wilderness Trails, near the Moses Spring parking lot, in Lower Condor Gulch, and on the west side near Chaparral Ranger Station, South Balconies, and Juniper Canyon. Great-horned owl vocalizations have been documented in upper Condor Gulch, at the base of Pipsqueak Pinnacles, and near the Reservoir. Long-eared owls have been heard again in the Chalone Housing to Trails Building area, hooting in the live oak overstory. Western screech-owls have been heard vocalizing near the Bear Gulch Visitor Center and Condor Gulch Road, and in the Pinnacles Campground. Immature northern harriers have been seen soaring over Little Pinnacles and near Scout Peak to Resurrection Wall in the High Peaks . Ospreys have also been seen circling over the central High Peaks on several occasions.

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, please contact me through email or my work extension, 270. Thanks

Gavin Emmons, Raptor Monitor Pinnacles National Monument 5000 Highway 146 Paicines, CA 95043 (831) 389-4485 x270

Pinnacles News

  • Raptor Closures Update - July, 2021

    The breeding raptor season is finally wrapping up at Pinnacles National Park and I wanted to provide a final update for 2021. All Raprot closures have been lifted.

    <read more>

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