Golden Eagles Return to Pinnacles

March 2019 - It’s raptor breeding season in Pinnacles National Park! So far, raptor monitoringstaff and volunteers have observed eight pairs of prairie falcons, and one single prairie falcon, occupying nesting territories and actively inspecting cliff cavities for potential nesting sites. Three peregrine falcon pairs have also been confirmed occupying territories. The park’s annual raptor advisories, which help people avoid disturbing the birds during this sensitive time, are now in effect.

Golden eagle sitting on a nest as another golden eagle brings nest material
Golden eagle pair at their nest, with the female incubating and the male adding eucalyptus branches to the nest (which serve as "decorations" but also as deterrents to parasites).

© Gavin Emmons

Adding to this season’s excitement, staff have confirmed that a golden eagle pair is nesting and incubating eggs at North Chalone Peak. These impressive birds were last confirmed nesting in the park six years ago, in 2013. Like prairie and peregrine falcons, golden eagles are cliff nesting birds sensitive to disturbance. They are a fully protected species in California.

Adult bird of prey with a red breast and shoulders standing in the grass at the base of a tree
Red-shouldered hawk hunting for rodent prey.

© Gavin Emmons

Many other raptor species have been active in Pinnacles’ bottomlands. In particular, red-shouldered hawks have been vocal as they build their stick nests. A pair in the campground is finishing construction of a nest high on a valley oak near the visitor center and the overflow parking lot. American kestrels, red-tailed hawks, great horned and barn owls, and Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks have been spotted in the park early this year as well.

Contact Gavin Emmons to learn more, or to report any raptor observations in the park.

Pinnacles National Park

Last updated: April 3, 2019