Project overview: Protect habitat and nesting locations important for the continued preservation of the endangered great gray owl and analyze findings from this landmark project.

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 park projects — such as the Ackerson Meadow restoration — combined with the impacts of climate change may substantially alter the owl’s core breeding habitats. 

Last year, researchers began using 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.) 

With your support, we will ensure park projects enhance the meadows and adjacent forests these owls rely on for nesting and foraging.

This year: In 2024, year 3 of this multiyear effort, researchers will complete analyses of owl locations, movements, habitat data, and molted feathers; prepare a publication and report with management recommendations; and conduct outreach to further communicate the research and management findings and conservation implications. Findings from this landmark project will promote long-term persistence and resilience of Yosemites great gray owl population into the foreseeable future.

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."