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Pinnacles Raptor Monitoring Update for July 2022

Hi Everyone -

The raptor monitoring season is finishing up at Pinnacles National Park and we had a very productive year.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and peregrine falcons (PEFA) were very successful in 2022 - nine PRFA pairs and four PEFA pairs nested and all nesting pairs fledged a total of 46 falcon young! To put this in perspective, this is the highest falcon fledgling total for a breeding season since 2013, and the first time we have had no nest failures in a season since 2005. In 2022 the nesting PEFA pairs produced 14 fledglings, a record high for the 35 years of the raptor monitoring program at Pinnacles National Park.

We are not certain why falcon nesting this year (and last year) has been so successful, given the large number of variables to consider. Prairie falcons at least may have benefitted from low precipitation in December and January and decreased vegetation cover for primary prey species like ground squirrels, other rodents, and grassland birds like meadowlarks.

Raptor advisories have been lifted for the rest of the year, with the exception of advisories still in effect at Little Pinnacles / Yaks.

Raptor advisories help protect our magnificent birds of prey from disturbance, and climbers and off-trail hikers did an excellent job of respecting the advisories and acting as good stewards of resources at the park. For additional information, refer to the PINN raptor advisories page -

Raptor Advisories - Pinnacles National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

For the 2022 season, PRFA and PEFA finished fledging young from thirteen nests by late June. For information on territory locations and rock formations, refer to Brad Young's climber's guidebook to Pinnacles.

See below for gallery of photos.

PRFA and PEFA breeding efforts for 2022 are listed below:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA nest, 4 young fledged
  • Egg / Teapot Dome: PRFA nest, 5 young fledged
  • South Balconies: PRFA nest, 4 young fledged
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA nest, 3 young fledged
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA nest, 1 young fledged
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA nest, 3 young fledged
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA nest, 5 young fledged
  • Drywall Slide: PRFA nest, 3 young fledged
  • Neglected Valley: PRFA nest, 4 young fledged
  • Frog / Hand: PEFA nest, 4 young fledged
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA nest, 4 young fledged
  • General / North Balconies: PEFA nest, 3 young fledged
  • South Chalone Peak: PEFA nest, 3 young fledged

In addition to PRFA and PEFA, we confirmed 24 raptor nests for other species at the park this year include American kestrels, red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, great horned, western screech, and long-eared owls, and Cooper's hawks.

We were able to confirm fledging success for five Cooper's hawk nests this year, a riparian nesting species that can be tricky to locate.

Raptor Photo Gallery

(all photos by Gavin Emmons - copyright 2022)

I really want to recognize the ongoing and outstanding efforts of several people that assisted with raptor monitoring at Pinnacles throughout the season - Mike Baird, Kaitlin Lopez, Joseph Belli, and Megan Gnekow. All of them have been working with the condor and / or raptor monitoring programs for years, and their passion for and expertise with confirming raptor status at the park is greatly appreciated! Great work team!

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 email details of observations including species, date, location, and times. Your reports help us comprehensively track raptor activity at the park over the years.

If you have any observations within the park to report, or any raptor-related questions, please contact me via email or extension 4279. Thanks!