2018 Pinnacles Raptor Nesting Season Getting Underway

Prairie falcon male sitting on a cliff-side nest
An adult male prairie falcon, incubating eggs at one of the nine active prairie falcon nests.

NPS / Gavin Emmons

April 2018 - The San Francisco Bay Area Network monitors breeding prairie (Falco mexicanus) and peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) at Pinnacles National Park every year. Currently, pairs of both species are incubating eggs. Ten prairie falcon pairs have been confirmed, nine of which are nesting. Two peregrine falcon pairs are also currently incubating eggs. The number of nesting prairie falcon pairs this year is consistent with the 30-year average for the park, but it’s too early to know how peregrine falcon numbers compare to other years.

Owl with long ear-tufts sitting on a nest
Long-eared owls are among the raptor species currently nesting at Pinnacles National Park.

NPS / Gavin Emmons

Two great horned owl nestlings of different sizes
Two great horned owl nestlings at an active nest in the bottomlands. Note that the nestlings are different ages, with the one in back more developed. Owls are known for laying eggs at different times, and raising nestlings of sometimes markedly different ages

Gavin Emmons / NPS

American kestrels, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, great horned owls, long-eared owls, and barn owls are also nesting right now. The couple of golden eagle pairs currently defending territories do not appear to be nesting yet. Cooper's hawks and sharp-shinned hawks are also building nests, but these late-season breeding species likely won't be incubating eggs until May or June.

Email Gavin Emmons for more details on the current monitoring season. For the latest on closures to protect nesting raptors, check out the Pinnacles National Park Raptor Advisories page.

Two adult red-shouldered hawks feeding nestlings in their nest
Pair of red-shouldered hawk adults feeding their nestlings.

Gavin Emmons / NPS

Last updated: April 30, 2018