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Raptor Monitoring Update for May to February 2020

Hey Everyone -

The breeding raptor season is starting up again at Pinnacles National Park; here is an initial update on raptor activity through mid February 2020.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and peregrine falcons (PEFA) have returned to nesting territories and are actively inspecting potential cliff cavity sites for nesting. Raptor advisories are in effect, and advisory signs are posted at Balconies, Hawkins Peak, and near Little Pinnacles / Yaks Wall. For current advisories in effect, refer to the PINN raptor advisories page - and feel free to ask me for further clarifications.

So far in the 2020 season, six pairs of PRFA and one single PRFA have been confirmed occupying territories, as well as two PEFA pairs and two single PEFA in territories. For information on territory locations and rock formations, refer to Brad Young's climber's guidebook to Pinnacles.

PRFA and PEFA breeding efforts for 2020 are listed below:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair confirmed
  • The Egg (on west side of High Peaks): Single PRFA confirmed, pair likely
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair confirmed
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair confirmed
  • Citadel: PRFA pair confirmed
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair confirmed
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA pair confirmed
  • Little Pinnacles / Yaks Wall: Single PEFA confirmed, pair likely
  • Pig Canyon: Single PEFA confirmed, pair possible
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair confirmed
  • General Balconies: PEFA pair confirmed

So far falcon occupancy has not been checked in the following historical breeding territories:

  • South Chalone Peak
  • Marion Canyon

As noted above, climbing and hiking advisories are in effect for the 2020 season. The official park website reflects current advisories in effect, as do the Friends of Pinnacles and Mud 'n Crud websites. Let me know if you have further questions.

In addition to PRFA and PEFA, other raptor species active in the park early this year have included American kestrels, red-tailed hawks, great horned and barn owls, and Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks.

Red-shouldered hawks are also vocal and are inspecting potential stick nest sites in the bottomlands. Although red-shouldered hawks primarily hunt and prey upon rodents and other small mammals, they will seek other food sources when available. Here are two photos of a red-shouldered hawk that was actively hunting for legless lizards in the campground, after it caught the reptiles on two occasions:

This year several people are assisting with raptor monitoring at Pinnacles - Megan Gnekow, Mike Baird, and Joseph Belli. All of them have been volunteering with the condor and / or raptor monitoring programs for years, and their assistance in confirming raptor status at the park this year is greatly appreciated!

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 or other 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 via email or extension 4279.


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