Yosemite is the last sanctuary of California’s great gray owl, among the rarest and most threatened bird species in California. Past research, funded in part by Yosemite Conservancy, has revealed just how fragile the Yosemite great gray owl population is.

This project incorporated a science-based conservation program to locate owl nests, protect and monitor these nests, and track population size and trends. Nest locations were identified by placing passive recording devices along the edges of meadow habitat, allowing researchers to “listen” for clues. Park scientists also genetically analyzed molted feathers to determine survivorship rates and population changes. This combination of non-invasive techniques is key to protecting and managing Yosemite’s great gray owl population.

By taking a proactive, noninvasive approach, together we were successful in building a conservation program to protect this magnificent species for future generations.

Partnering with Yosemite National Park; U.S. Fish and Wildlife; University of California, Davis; U.S. Forest Service; and U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center.

Sarah Stock

Wildlife Biologist

Project Notes

With fewer than 300 great gray owls in in the greater Yosemite area, the species is rare, mysterious and astonishing to behold. It is humbling to have the opportunity to protect this special bird in such an amazing place and gratifying to know we'€™re giving our great grandchildren the best chance for experiencing the magic of Yosemite'€™s great gray owls in their beautiful meadow homes.