Pinon-Juniper Woodlands and Savannahs


Coyotes find plentiful food with the cottontail rabbits, pinon mice, and pocket gophers in the Pinon-Juniper Woodland.

Photo by Sally King

Once you move up in elevation from the Rio Grande and canyon-bottom streams, you will find pinon-juniper woodlands and savannahs. Pinon pine and juniper trees live here because they are well adapted to drought conditions. This plant community provides essential food for the pinon jay, cottontail rabbits, and pinon mice. With its calorie-rich nuts, the pinon pine provided an important though sporadic ingredient in the Ancestral Pueblo diet. Junipers provided edible berries and durable wood for toolmaking.
Eastern Fence Lizard

A sunny rock in the Pinon-Juniper Woodland is a good place to spot an Eastern Fence Lizard displaying his colors.

Photo by Sally King

Soil erosion is a major problem in this zone due to past practices of livestock overgrazing and fire suppression. Severe droughts in the early 2000s caused large-scale die-offs of these trees across the Pajarito Plateau. These two factors have dramatically altered the pinon-juniper communities in Bandelier.

Click here for more information on restoring the Pinon-Juniper Woodland.

Yucca, Claretcup Cactus, Juniper Berries

The Pinon-Juniper Woodland has a wide range of plant life.

Photos by Sally King

Pinon Jay

Pinon Jays follow the sporadic nut production of the Pinon Pine.  These nuts are an essential ingredient in the bird's diet.

Photo by Sally King

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