Pinnacles National Park is one of the smallest and newest national parks in the United States. It is home to a large amount of interesting wildlife - including some endangered wildlife. It is a haven for thousands of diverse species of North American animals. The greatest hotspot for wildlife viewing in the Lower 48 is generally considered to be Yellowstone National Park.
Many animals need more than one type of habitat to thrive and to meet all of their needs. Because of that, transitional zones (where one habitat meets another) are often some of the best places to view wildlife. As Pinnacles is a mosaic of different habitats, it has many opportunities for various species to live and thrive.
Mammals of Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles is now something of an island of intact natural habitat surrounded by a region challenged by ever-growing human development. It is one of the last refugees to a number of sensitive species like the big-eared kangaroo rat, the Gabilan slender salamander, species of bats, and others.
There are over 48 mammalian species that call the Pinnacles National Park home.
- Mammals: Over 48 Species of Mammals
Some notable mammals seen in the park include black-tailed deer, bobcat, gray fox, raccoon, jackrabbit, brush rabbit, ground squirrel, chipmunk, and several kinds of bat. Other animals that are present but are not commonly seen include coyotes, mountain lions, and badgers.
Three mammals have been introduced to the Pinnacles are the house mouse, the opossum, and feral pigs. Of these, feral pigs were abundant and caused extensive damage to the native vegetation of the park. To reduce the environmental impact of the pigs, a fence was built around the park's perimeter, and the pigs were then removed.
There are also plenty of reptiles in the park. It includes eight lizards, fourteen snakes, and one turtle.
Townsend's Big-eared Bat
One of the most notable animals living in Pinnacles is Townsend's Big-eared Bat. They form maternity roosts during the breeding season and are particularly congregated in Bear Gulch Cave in the park. They are easily disturbed, and so much of the cave is off-limits for parts of the year, with the bats being constantly monitored for disturbance.
- Lifespan: 16 Years (Up to 30 Years)
- Bear Gulch Cave: One of The Top Colonies Of The Bats
Another of the few breeding colonies in California is on Santa Cruz Island (where they roost in the historic Scorpion Ranch).
Birds Of Pinnacles National Park
Birds are the most visible residents of Pinnacles. It is home to over 160 species of birds, including turkey vultures circling high in the sky. Noisy avian residents include acorn woodpeckers and Steller's jay's. Many species of birds can be found around Bear Gulch and Chalone Creek - as there is an abundance of food in these areas as well as water and shelter.
- Bird Species: Over 160 Species of Birds
There are too many species to name here, but some include California quails, oak titmice, northern flickers, spotted towhees, bushtits, prairie falcons, golden eagles, great-horned owls, and the California Condor.
The Endangered California Condor In Pinnacles
Perhaps the most notable resident of Pinnacles is the highly endangered California condor. They were driven to the cusp of extinction when all the surviving condors were captured in 1987 and bred in captivity. At that point, there was only a total population of 27 individuals left alive. It is the only surviving member of the genus Gymnogyps.
They were successfully released back into the wild in Pinnacles National Park as part of the California Condor Recovery Program in 2003. They have also been released in the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Baja California.
- Released: In 2003
- Listed: Critically Endangered
- Numbers: Low of 27 in 1987, Recovered to 504 in 2020
They have the widest wingspan of any North American bird (3.0 meters or 9.8 feet) and weigh up to 12 kg or 26 lbs. The condor is a scavenger eating a lot of carrion and has one of the longest lifespans of any bird (living up to 60 years).
Today their numbers have recovered to around 504 California condors living in the wild or in captivity.