Once the ruler of the chaparral, the last California grizzly was seen in 1924. The last one in Southern California was shot in 1908.
Two Great Chaparralians The iconic, but now extinct, California grizzly bear and the majestic California condor, which nearly became extinct and remains endangered, are the chaparral's most famous animal residents. One of the best places to see condors in the wild is at Pinnacles National Monument.
A California condor taking a rest from soaring over the Los Padres National (Chaparral) Forest. Photo: Lane Frank.
The most comprehensive book on the California Grizzly Bear is by Tracy I. Storer and Lloyd P. Tevis. Published in 1955 when there were still people around who actually saw the griz, the book describes all the bear's particulars, lore, and natural history. A small section of the book describing the bear's habits can be downloaded here.
BIRDS AND MAMMALS
Although many species travel over and through the chaparral, only a few call it home year-round. Here are the basic chaparral birds including year-round residents and those that make extended visits:
If you are interested in identifying plants of Southern California, one has to be very careful about websites or guidebooks created outside the region, since the species are very likely to be different, even though they look the same. For example, this webpageis a wonderful site for identifying the common yellow wildflowers in the San Francisco Bay area, but can easily lead one astray for identifying the ones in Southern California. If you try to identify one of our several yellow Mariposa lilies in Southern California using that webpage, you’d erroneously think the identification was Calochortus luteus, which is confined to northern California and the northern Channel Islands.
Another example is the five species of "purple nightshade" in California, whose flowers all look very similar. In the Santa Monica Mountains area, the species is Solanum xanti. At the Santa Rosa Plateau in Riverside County, and in San Diego County, the species is Solanum parishii, Parish's purple nightshade.
The latter example shows that even plant guides created within Southern California can lead you astray if you don’t use one local to your subarea. For example, you cannot reliably identify most species at the Santa Rosa Plateau by using a plant list or flower book from somewhere else, such as the Santa Monica Mountains. The "look-alike" species such as the purple nightshades will give you incorrect identifications. Only a small number of species are in common between two places. Of course, those may be among the commonest species in each place, so using a picture book from elsewhere may help to identify the most common species. The closer the other area, the more matches there will be.
For a fairly complete list of webpages and books that show southern California flowers, see:
Manzanita, the classic chaparral shrub. Pictured here is big-berry manzanita, Arctostaphylos glauca.
In order to survive drought and fire, insects have evolved an amazing assortment of adaptations. Click on the photo to the right and discover the interesting story of the chaparral walking stick insect, Timea californicum!