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.
A portion of our folding, 12-panel Chaparral Pocket Naturalist guide. Get one free when donating to the Institute. Details on our Join/Donate page.
The Essential 64 Plants and Animals of Southern California Chaparral
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.
For a fairly complete list of webpages and books that show southern California flowers, see:
Although many species travel over and through the chaparral, only a few call it home year-round. Here's are the basic chaparral bird list including year-round residents and those that make extended visits:
In order to survive drought and fire, insects have evolved an amazing assortment of adaptations. Stay tuned for more on this subject. In the mean time, click on the photo to the right and discover the interesting story of the chaparral walking stick insect, Timea californicum!
Complete MAMMALS, HERPS, AND INVERTS lists are COMING SOON!