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Pinnacles Raptor Monitoring Update for March 2022

Hi Everyone -

For any new staff, interns, or volunteers that don't know me, my name is Gavin Emmons and I lead up the raptor monitoring program for Pinnacles National Park. The following update details the status of breeding raptor activity at the park so far this season.

Prairie falcons (PRFA) and peregrine falcons (PEFA) have returned to nesting territories and are actively inspecting and preparing cliff cavity nest sites. Raptor advisories are in effect to help protect these magnificent raptors from disturbance, 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 check the FOP closures listing.

Please, feel free to ask me for further clarifications.

Raptor Update

For the 2022 season, PRFA and PEFA have been confirmed occupying nine and four territories respectively. The falcons are not yet nesting but should be selecting nest sites for egg incubation within the next few weeks. For information on territory locations and rock formations, refer to Brad Young's climber's guidebook to Pinnacles.

PRFA and PEFA breeding efforts for 2022 are listed below:

  • Resurrection Wall: PRFA pair
  • Egg / Teapot Dome: PRFA pair
  • South Balconies: PRFA pair
  • Crowley Towers: PRFA pair
  • Willow Spring Slide: PRFA pair
  • South Chalone Peak: PRFA pair
  • North Chalone Peak: PRFA (single confirmed, pair very likely)
  • Drywall Slide: PRFA pair
  • Gargoyle / Piedras Bonitas Cliffs: PRFA pair
  • Little Pinnacles / Yaks Wall: PEFA pair
  • Hawkins Peak: PEFA pair
  • General / North Balconies: PEFA pair
  • South Chalone Peak: PEFA pair

As noted above, climbing and hiking advisories are in effect for the 2022 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.

PRFA and PEFA are actively defending territories and will alarm call or dive at intruders (including people!) that get too close to their intended nest sites. See photo of an adult male PRFA defending its territory, scold-calling while in flight (Gallery below).

PEFA adults are also actively defending territories . See photo of an adult female watching carefully from a territorial perch (Gallery below).

In addition to PRFA and PEFA, other raptor species active in the park this year include American kestrels, red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, great horned, western screech, and barn owls, and Cooper's and vsharp-shinned hawks.

See photo of a red-shouldered hawk atop a territorial perch scanning for prey (Gallery below).

Two golden eagle pairs have also been confirmed occupying historic territories, in the park and just outside of the west side entrance. Like cliff-cavity nesting falcons, golden eagles are quite sensitive to human disturbance, so it is exciting to see golden eagle pairs in the area - they should begin nesting efforts soon!

Raptor Photo Gallery

(all photos by Gavin Emmons - copyright 2022)

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