Project overview: Protect habitat and nesting locations important for the continued preservation of the endangered great gray owl.

How your support helps: Great gray owls are endangered in California, and two-thirds of the owl’s population in the state lives in Yosemite. This genetically unique subspecies lives within the park and is vital to the species’ survival in the Sierra Nevada region. But several upcoming park projects — such as the Ackerson Meadow restoration — combined with the impacts of climate change may substantially alter the owl’s core breeding habitats.

With your support, this initiative will ensure that park projects enhance, rather than degrade, the meadows and adjacent forests these owls rely on for nesting and foraging.

This year: In 2022, researchers will use GPS tracking devices to follow the movements and precise locations of Yosemite’s great gray owls to determine habitat preferences and nest tree locations. This information will help ensure modifications made during park projects will produce better — and additional — foraging habitat and make roadsides less attractive to the owls. (Much like bears, these magnificent owls are regularly hit and killed by speeding cars. Remember to drive slowly through the park.)

In Ackerson Meadow, this information could help inform the restoration design so the area is more suitable for owls. Data collected near roadsides will help researchers understand which conditions attract the owls, so biomass removal efforts can be designed to reduce the chances of future owl–vehicle collisions.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park and The Institute for Bird Populations

Sarah Stock

Wildlife Biologist, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"The great gray owl is endangered in California and 2/3 of the owl’s population in the state occurs in Yosemite. This project protects meadow foraging habitat and nesting locations important for the continued preservation of this southernmost North American population of great gray owls."