Protecting the Great Gray Owl

The great gray owl has a special place in Yosemite. The park is the last stronghold for this rare and spectacular bird, containing more than two-thirds of the known remaining California population.

Rare Species

The great gray owl is among California’s rarest bird and the largest of North America’s owls.

Research Explores Conservation Needs

It is threatened from human activity from both inside and outside the park. Yosemite Conservancy funds research that has addressed immediate conservation needs.

Sharing Information

Teams from different agencies and universities have shared this vital information to ensure the great gray owl’s home and future are protected.

  • Recent surveys have pioneered the use and development of completely non-invasive monitoring of great gray owls in Yosemite. This ground-breaking approach now allows scientists to collect a wide range of samples without unsettling the owls. Researchers use passive automated recording units (ARUs), passive meadow searches for pellets and feathers, and genetic techniques to collect information on owl occupancy and demographics.
  • These detailed survey results are now being used to assist in park activities, such as prescribed firing planning, to avoid impacting the owls.
  • Results from this work are also shared with a broad group of organizations, all of which have important roles in protecting the great gray owl. These include the Wildlife Society, National Forest Service, California Department of Fish and Game, UC Davis, Audubon Society and Golden Gate Raptor Observatory.

More Wildlife Protected Projects

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.

Sarah Stock
Wildlife Biologist
National Park Service

Map of Your Impact

From the reintroduction of bighorn sheep to restoration of Yosemite’s legendary trails, your support has made an impact in every corner of the park.