Pinon-Juniper Woodlands and Savannahs

coyote with food
Coyotes find plentiful food with the cottontail rabbits, piñon mice, and pocket gophers in the Piñon-Juniper Woodland supplemented by the occasional roadkill elk.

Photo by Sally King

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

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

claret cup cactus
The Piñon-Juniper Woodland has a wide range of plant life.

Photo by Sally King

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

Photo by Sally King

Last updated: August 8, 2017

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