Important Bird Areas

Grand Canyon National Park- Raptor Migration Points

Arizona

Grand Canyon NP is a globally designated IBA for nesting
California condor, Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida), and Pinyon Jay. The
Grand Canyon also has an exceptional concentration of nesting peregrine falcons
that is in excess of 10% of the nesting population in Arizona. The plateau
above the canyon supports an excellent diversity of montane bird species,
including numbers of Bendire’s Thrasher and Cassin’s Finch.

This IBA includes two hawk watch locations on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Lipan and Yaki Points. The site steward for the raptor monitoring is Hawk Watch International. Information about them and how you can help by being a hawk watch volunteer can be found at: http://www.hawkwatch.org/migration/migration.php

Ornithological Summary

The cliff promontories of the Grand Canyon function as important air space for a major raptor migratory corridor. Up to 19 raptor species have been recorded at least once, and 10,000 to 12,000 individuals average per fall migration season. Hawk Watch International conducts standardized counts along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Two to three nest sites for California Condor are documented within the canyon and there has been breeding success. Mexican Spotted Owls and Peregrine Falcons both nest within the inner canyon, as do Prairie Falcons and Golden Eagles. Survey for Spotted Owls and Peregrines is very difficult. A major survey for breeding Peregrine Falcons was completed in 1988 and 1989 and has not been replicated. Major survey efforts for Mexican Spotted Owl breeding population in the Grand Canyon National Park were conducted in 2001-2002 and in 2006.

The extensive Pinyon and Juniper woodlands at the lower elevations of the Park are home to Pinyon Jay. Another species that is hard to survey because they move in nomadic groups of 30 to over 100 birds, the numbers are most likly significant.
The cliff promontories of the Grand Canyon function as important air space for a major raptor migratory corridor. Up to 19 raptor species have been recorded at least once, and 10,000 to 12,000 individuals average per fall migration season. Hawk Watch International conducts standardized counts along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Two to three nest sites for California Condor are documented within the canyon and there has been breeding success. Mexican Spotted Owls and Peregrine Falcons both nest within the inner canyon, as do Prairie Falcons and Golden Eagles. The Grand Canyon has an exceptional concentration of nesting peregrine falcons that is in excess of 10% of the nesting population in Arizona. A major survey for breeding Peregrine Falcons was completed in 1988 and 1989 and has not been replicated. Major survey efforts for Mexican Spotted Owl breeding population in the Grand Canyon National Park were conducted in 2001-2002 and in 2006. Results of the intensive survey effort in 2001 and 2002 yielded a grand total of 56 territories, or approximately 112 owls in the park. All owls were located within mid- and low-elevation steep canyon habitat. To date, surveys have covered about 50% of suitable steep canyon habitat predicted by the GIS models; thus a population of over 200 spotted owls could be present in these habitats in Grand Canyon.

48 bird species regularly nest along the river, including Bell's Vireo, Lucy's Warbler and other riparian obligate species. Other species use the river as a migration corridor or as overwintering habitat. The Bald eagle Haliaetus leucocephalus is one species that uses the river corridor as winter habitat. The trout rich waters of the Colorado River provide a perfect food source for the eagles.

Approximately 30 bird species breed primarily in the desert uplands and cliffs of the inner canyon. There are no endemic birds here. Virtually all bird species present breed in other suitable habitats throughout the Sonoran and Mohave deserts.

Of the approximately 90 bird species that breed in the coniferous forests, 51 are summer residents and at least 15 of these are known to be neotropical migrants, including Northern goshawks Accipiter gentilis . Impacts to bird populations from natural and prescribed fire activities are largely unknown, but forest fires undoubtedly affect species distributions and population levels.

Conservation Issues

Low-flying site seeing aircraft is a potential threat, but otherwise this site faces no threats.

Ownership

US Park Service Grand Canyon National Park.

Habitat

The Park contains several major ecosystems. Its
great biological diversity can be attributed to the presence of five of the
seven life zones and three of the four desert types in North
America. The five life zones represented are the Lower Sonoran,
Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, and Hudsonian. This is equivalent to
traveling from Mexico to Canada. The Park
also serves as an ecological refuge, with relatively undisturbed remnants of
dwindling ecosystems (such as boreal forest and desert riparian communities).

Land Use

Protected Areas: All of area is in Grand Canyon National Park with primary use being visitors who stay a short time to view the Grand Canyon.

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