photo copyright Jennifer Green, 2012

Pinnacles Christmas Bird Count (CAPI 119)
The 2018 count will be held Sunday, Dec. 30.

Here is the information and count material for the 2018 count.

Hope to see you on the count.

Steve, Daniel, and Rusty

Count materials, including the tally sheet, participant sign-in sheet, and maps are available on this website (scroll down to Count Resources on this page). However, we will be happy to mail/email anything if you request it. Most of these documents are pdf files and require Adobe Reader to open.

Contact Info:
Counters inside the park: Folks counting inside the park, meet Daniel at the campground store inside the east entrance at 7:00 on count day.

Daniel George coordinates the count inside the park: cell 415-686-6910,
Note that there is essentially no cell phone service inside the park, so trying to call Daniel on count day will be hopeless.

To contact the other compilers, Rusty Scalf or Steve Lombardi, email Steve at or call cell 925/785-0130.

Count Dinner:
Let us know if you're coming to the count dinner so we can give the restaurant a heads-up. You can select your meal when you arrive; no need to pre-order.

You can arrive and begin eating whenever you wish. Officially, this year's count dinner will start at 5:30 PM and be held at The Running Rooster (same place as last year), 800 San Benito Street (corner San Benito & South), Hollister, CA, CA 95023, (831) 634-0135.
Here's a Google Maps link:

We'll have a room to ourselves. The menu will be limited to a choice of 5 dishes; you can order when you arrive at the restaurant.

Menu Choices:

Garlic Rosemary Rotisserie Chicken
½ chicken, freshly cooked, served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetable.
Note: the brining and wood smoke that are part of the preparation can give the meat a pink tint. This is not
undercooking, all our chickens are cooked to an internal tem
perature above 170 .

Black Bean Veggie Burger
Choice of Cheese and 1 Topper with Outlaw Fries.

Sausage and Mushroom Pizza
Tomato sauce, oregano, mozzarella, Italian sausage, & mushrooms

All American Burger
# burger with Cheddar, bacon & caramelized onions
Default garnish is lettuce, tomato, fresh red onions & dill pickle slices.

Chicken Apple Walnut Salad
Spring mix lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumber, blue cheese crumbles,
Fuji apple, candied walnuts, & fresh grilled chicken.

Count Resources: Following is a list of files that you might find helpful in doing the count. They are mainly pdf files and require Adobe Reader. 
Note: To avoid annoyance, we suggest opening these files in a New Tab (right click on the link and select New Tab).
Note: If any of these files fail to open in your browser, try right-clicking on the link and saving the file to your hard drive ("Save Target As" in Internet Explorer or "Save Link As" in Firefox).

The Count Tally Sheet for use in the field is here. This is where you'll keep track of your counts.
The tally sheet is also where you'll record your effort and where participants will sign in.

Audubon  Rare Bird Form. You'll need to fill out this form if you see any rare birds. Any species not shown on the Tally Sheet is considered rare and requires documentation.

Maps: Following is a list of maps.

Campground Map: A detailed map of the campground and eastern entrance visitors center.

Inside-the-Park Count Routes: The NPS park map showing CBC count routes inside the park, prepared by Daniel George.

Count circle maps

  • To download or view a map of the count circle, which includes roads, terrain, vegetation, and landmarks, click here: PinnCBC_Landsat.pdf.  This file is 8.3MB in size, so will take a few minutes to download (but it's worth it).  Here is a lower resolution version of the map (2.4MB). Thanks to Rusty for his hard work in making this map.
  • If you don't want to download the big map above, here are two small maps of the partial count circle.
Park map: To download or view the official map of Pinnacles National Park, click here: Pinnacles NM Map.

Soledad city map, annotated: Much of the city of Soledad is in the count circle. Here's an annotated street map.

Other Links: Here are some links that you might find helpful.

Count Results
2012 count results (includes entire count history)

We've posted the other count results below in Excel format: 

Area count sheet, 2016

Area count sheet, 2015

Area count sheet, 2014

Area count sheet, 2013

Area count sheet, 2012

Area count sheet, 2011

Area count sheet, 2010
Area count sheet 2009

2016 Special Aspects (2016 was an especially interesting year, so we've included the Special Aspects for that year)

           Drizzle and some rain most of day. Little wind. Thus, most raptors were seen perched.

           In spite of relatively heavy rains in the weeks prior to the count, there was no water in the Salinas River in Soledad, which matched the conditions the past few years since the start of the drought.

           Once again, we had no access to ponds, thus almost no ducks nor shorebirds (except Killdeer). This situation is likely to continue in future counts.

           MODO and Magpie numbers remain quite low, having dropped substantially starting about 2010.

           Overall species and individual numbers were typical considering the habitats we had to count. We had good counting coverage inside the park and adequate coverage elsewhere.

           In Soledad, the vineyard behind Estancia Winery and the conifer windbreak on adjacent Bryant Canyon Rd. have been torn out in preparation for housing to be built.

           The eucalyptus windbreak along San Vicente Rd. just outside Soledad has largely been removed for some reason, reducing YRWA habitat.


Lawrence’s Goldfinches and other seedeaters:

A high count of 381 Lawrence’s goldfinches were found along La Gloria Rd. (San Benito County)  in this count, almost exclusively attracted to the chamise seeds. This is an 1142% increase over the prior 6 year (2010-2015) mean. D. Shearwater who has birded this road for close to 25 years reached this count by counting each individual flock along a 4.6 mile stretch of La Gloria Rd. Flocks ranged in size from 5 to 75, with 18 being about average. Associating with these goldfinches were flocks of dark-eyed juncos, golden-crowned sparrows, and fox sparrows, including 2 slate-colored fox sparrows. The previous high count along this road for Lawrence’s goldfinches was about 400. Elsewhere in the region, Mike Rogers and Mike Mammoser encountered a similar situation, recording 239 Lawrence’s goldfinches feeding on chamise seeds along with a similar suite of birds, including slate-colored fox sparrow.

The LAGO’s on La Gloria Rd. were joined by large increases in other seed-eating species, viz:

·         Fox Sparrow, 608% increase over prior 6 year mean. Mainly on the mid and upper elevations.

·         Golden-crowned Sparrow, 354% increase. Mainly in the lower, more open, portions.

·         Dark-eyed Junco, 437% increase. Mainly in the upper, shadier, portions.

These large increases on La Gloria Rd. were not matched in the rest of the count circle, where the 2016 counts matched the prior 6 year average (within 1%).

Some comments from Debi Shearwater (count founder and San Benito County eBird editor) re: the Monterey County portion of the count outside Pinnacles NP: From a historical standpoint there is less than 1% of the original grasslands habitat remaining, it being replaced by disked fields for ag row crops or vineyards. This is based on Debi’s personal observations over the approximately 20 years that the count has been done. On the east side of the summit (San Benito County), the grasslands/oak/chaparral habitat is still largely intact.


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