has relatively few species that are in danger of extinction and thus
afforded protection by the Endangered Species Act. Fortunately there
are no endangered plants in the park, although there are several endemic
species (found only here) and other rarities worthy of special concern.
Three bird species found in the park are listed as threatened or endangered
as of May 1999. (Two mammals are currently listed and a third is soon
to be; see Wolves, Grizzly Bears, and Lynx.) Protection
and recovery of these rare and beautiful species is a high priority
for Yellowstone National Park.
Falcons (Falco peregrinus)
falcons reside in Yellowstone from April through October, nesting on
large cliffs that overlook rivers or valleys where they prey on songbirds
and waterfowl. These falcons can winter as far south as South America
but Yellowstone peregrines are believed to winter in Mexico; none spend
the winter here. Peregrines are expert hunters, and have been clocked
at speeds exceeding 200 mph as they swoop after prey. Because of their
high-speed movements, they may be difficult to distinguish from other
falcons, such as prairie falcons, which also live in Yellowstone. Distinction
may be made by identifying the blue-grey body, black helmet feature,
and the black wedge below the eye. The prairie falcon, by contrast,
is a lighter, warmer brown-bellied bird with a light breast and has
black "armpits" under its wings.
use of pesticides contributed significantly to the decline of peregrine
populations until the 1970s. The recognition and protection of the peregrine
falcon as an endangered species, combined with private captive breeding
and subsequent wild restoration efforts such as those undertaken by
the Peregrine Fund, have resulted in the gradual increase of this bird
in the wild. The peregrine is currently "ecologically recovered"
peregrines were reintroduced from 1984 through 1988, in hopes that they
would reoccupy historic nesting sites in the park. All suitable habitat
quickly appeared to be occupied; known peregrine nests, or eyries, increased
from 1 in 1984 to 13 in 1998. 22 young falcons fledged from nests in
1998. Peregrines may be "downlisted" to threatened as their
populations increase. For this endangered species, recovery is well
underway. The peregrine falcon is "ecologically recovered"
in Yellowstone and throughout much of its range. It is expected to be
delisted (taken off the list) in the near future.
Wildlife of Yellowstone"
- 94 Minutes
Wildlife of Yellowstone DVD presents to you the most popular and
prominent wildlife inhabiting Yellowstone National Park. This
dvd, taped in digital format, has the highest quality scenes of
grizzlies, black bears, moose, wolves, otters, owls, fox and much
more including their young. Inside this dvd you will find
94 Minutes on the Wildlife of Yellowstone.
· Three Chapters : Large Mammals, Small Mammals and Birds
· Narrated by Yellowstone Tour Owner and Specialist - Ken
· Where, When and How to Spot the Wildlife of Yellowstone
Info or Order Online
Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
bald eagle, our national symbol, resides in Yellowstone throughout the
year, nesting in large trees close to water. Adult birds are easily
recognized by their dark bodies, white head and tail feathers; their
wing span may reach up to 7 feet depending on the individual. During
severe winters, some pairs move to lower elevations where food is more
available. On the wintering areas, resident eagles are joined by migrant
bald and golden eagles. Bald eagles are often seen around Yellowstone
Lake, where they prey on fish in the summer. They also commonly scavenge
the carcasses of animals such as elk and bison that die in late fall
to early spring. This is especially apparent on the Northern Range of
Bald Eagle Management Plan objective for the greater Yellowstone ecosystem
is to have 62 breeding pairs produce an average of 53 young each year.
In 1998, 15 eaglets fledged from 22 active nests in the park. We are
currently surpassing our Bald Eagle Management Plan objectives.
July 1995, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reviewed the status
of the bald eagle and downlisted it from endangered to threatened in
four of the five regions in the United States in which it is found.
Even if removed from the endangered species list, eagles and their habitat
will be monitored and protected in Yellowstone and elsewhere, as specified
in the Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Cranes (Grus americana)
cranes are one of the most endangered birds in North America. Standing
more than 4 feet tall on their long, slender legs, the white birds with
red/black facial markings and black wing tips are named for their unique
whooping call. Historical accounts show very few records in western
Wyoming and evidence of whooping cranes historically nesting in the
park is sketchy at best. When visiting the park, one should not confuse
the white whooping cranes with the duller, greyer, rusty sandhill crane.
Sandhill cranes frequent the small meadows of the park.
whooping crane currently resides in the park in the summer, a remnant
of a failed experiment conducted in the 1980s and early 1990s. That
effort attempted to restore "whoopers" to the Rocky Mountain
flyway by taking eggs from the nests of whooping cranes in Wood Buffalo
National Park in northern Canada transporting and placing them with
"foster parent" sandhill cranes nesting at Gray's Lake National
Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Idaho. These cranes moved south each
winter, along with the sandhills, primarily to Bosque del Apache National
Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. But after many years, the Gray's Lake
whooping cranes declined in numbers and those that did survive and mature
failed to successfully pair bond and produce young. As of 1999, only
2 Gray's Lake whooping cranes remain in the Greater Yellowstone.
May 1, 1998, two whooping cranes were released in Yellowstone National
Park at the request of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These birds
were part of an experiment to learn how to establish a new migratory
flock of whooping cranes in North America. In 1997, four cranes were
raised at the Patuxent National Wildlife Research Center in Maryland.
An Idaho rancher working with the whooping crane recovery coordinator
took the birds to his ranch and trained them to follow his ultralight
plane. In the autumn of 1997, he led the birds to their winter home
in New Mexico.
cranes trained to follow the ultralight were lost to predators at the
refuge, but two other 'ultralight' birds began their spring migration
from New Mexico on March 5, following the lead of many thousands of
sandhill cranes departing Bosque del Apache. The birds traveled to the
San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, where more than 20,000 sandhill
cranes gather for about a month to gain energy reserves for the rest
of their migration. After leaving the valley on April 11, 1998, both
whoopers were located in poor crane habitat where they faced threats
from nearby powerlines and fences. Collisions with powerlines are the
single highest source of mortality for fledged whooping cranes. For
this reason, the whoopers were recaptured and released in the safer
environment at Yellowstone, where it was hoped the birds would summer
prior to a successful autumn migration. Where these birds end up in
1999 in the Greater Yellowstone is anyone's guess.
only wild nesting population of whooping cranes actually summers in
Alberta and the Northwest Territories. These cranes migrate across the
Great Plains between Canada and the Texas coast. In recent years the
flock has grown to about 250 individual whooping cranes in the wild;
more than 100 other birds live in captivity. Biologists are now experimenting
with re-establishing a flock in Florida