Birds of Pinnacles National Park

California Quail
California Quail

Photo by Gavin Emmons

Birds are the most visible animals visitors are likely to encounter at Pinnacles National Park, with over 160 species documented in the park since 1908. Turkey vultures circle and soar in the skies overhead, while acorn woodpeckers and Steller's jays call noisily among the pines and oaks near the visitor centers. In the winter, dark-eyed juncos and California towhees perch and forage around willows and underbrush. In the spring and summer, black-headed grosbeaks and warbling vireos sing loudly from oaks and pines as they set up nesting territories.

The variety of habitat types at Pinnacles attracts a great diversity of birds to the park. Many species can be found along the riparian corridors of Bear Gulch and Chalone Creek, because they provide an abundance of food, water, and shelter. In spring and summer house wrens, black phoebes, yellow warblers, and yellow-breasted chats are among the species seen in shaded riparian areas, and mallards and belted kingfishers are seen occasionally along the creeks and at the reservoir every year.

Certain species like western tanagers, California quail, oak titmice, and northern flickers favor the pine and oak woodlands in the park, while the dense, low scrub of chaparral that covers most of the park makes a great home for others such as California thrashers, spotted towhees, and bushtits.

The rocky summits and peaks of Pinnacles provide nesting habitat and roosts for many raptors, including prairie falcons and golden eagles, as well as smaller bird species including the vocal canyon wren and the acrobatic violet-green swallow. At night, the haunting calls of great-horned owls can be heard echoing off the cliff walls.

Profile of a California condor head, with piercing golden eye, pink skin, and hooked beak.

Learn why and how Pinnacles works to protect these massive, majestic, and severely-endangered creatures.

A great horned owl takes shelter in a small cave among the rock formations at Pinnacles NP.

Pinnacles is home to several iconic birds of prey, including prairie and peregrine falcons.

Close up on face of acorn woodpecker, with long arc of a beak, yellow throat, and black body.

You may hear the hammering or "wheka wheka" calls of the woodpeckers that make their homes at Pinnacles.

Turkey vultures perched in a tree.
Birds Checklist

Check out this downloadable, printable checklist of bird species to look for at Pinnacles.

Photo of California thrasher with an arc-shaped beak among fallen leaves.
Landbird monitoring at Pinnacles

The National Park Service keeps track of which landbird species are present at Pinnacles and how abundant they are.

Last updated: May 7, 2019

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

5000 East Entrance Road
Paicines, CA 95043


831 389-4486
Please call the number above for all park related inquiries. For camping questions contact the Pinnacles Campground at (831) 200-1722. For the park book store, please call (831) 389-4485.

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