Common Chaparral Species
Territorial, Smart, and Feisty
Chaparral Birds: The Five Essentials
1. Wrentit (observed mostly by call) - and the essential Mary Erickson paper on the Wrentit (conclusion).
2. Western Scrub-Jay
3. California Towhee
4. Spotted Towhee
5. California Thrasher
Birds especially common in chaparral for several years after a fire
2. Sage Sparrow (mostly winter)
3. Rufous-crowned Sparrow
4. Lazuli Bunting (April through September)
5. Lawrence's Goldfinch
6. Black-chinned sparrow (April through summer months)
Excellent information on how fire impacts bird populations from the San Diego Natural History Museum (post 2003 Cedar Fire study).
Chaparral Plants - The Chaparral's Essential Six Shrubs
The Essential 64 Plants and Animals of Southern California Chaparral is a list from our book Fire, Chaparral, and Survival in Southern California. The 64 species in this list are the most likely species you will see most of the time while taking a walk through the chaparral. Download, print, and check 'em off!
There are several excellent online plant ID sources for California native plants found in the chaparral. Here are a few:
The San Diego Plant Atlas has an incredible amount of information.
Las Pilitas Nursery photo ID of many natives.
Calflora. Photos and locations of every native plant in California.
Our book, Fire, Chaparral, and Survival in Southern California offers an color identification guide for the most common chaparral plants. A more general identification guide for much of Southern California is James Lightner's excellent 2006 second edition of San Diego County Native Plants. Another excellent book is Margaret L. Fillius' Native Plants, Torrey Pines State Reserve and Nearby San Diego County Locations.
Using Plant ListsBy Tom Chester
"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 webpage is 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."
Tom's Plants of Southern California: California Plant Pictures and Databases.