Chaparral Country Wildlife

Name for the Spanish for "scrub oak", the chaparral is a unique plant community, most prominent on hot, dry California slopes. Chaparral is a mixture of various evergreen shrubs, some of them bushy versions of trees found in nearby woodlands. With roots that tap deep sources of water, the shrubs can survive on parched soil. Though winter rains bring on a season of bloom, the waxy leaves turn dry as tinder during the long, hot summer. Fire sweeps periodically through the chaparral. When it rains again, seedlings germinate and new shoots sprout, reclaiming the land.

Chaparral forms dense thickets nearly impenetrable to man or large animals. Chaparral and chaps&mdahs;chaps being the protective leggings donned by cowboys riding through the brush are closely allied. But thanks to an abundance of berries, acorns, and seeds, the scrubby landscape is a haven for small animal life. Woodrats, chipmunks, and rabbits scurry about; skinks and other lizards are much in evidence on sunny slopes. Ground-foraging quail and towhees dart through low passageways in the thickets; hard-to-saee wrentits, seldom found elsewhere, flit from twig to twig.

The California Montane Chaparral and Woodlands ecoregion is a combination of sage scrub, chaparral, pinon-juniper woodland, oak woodlands, and different forest types: closed-cone pine, yellow pine, sugar-pine white, lodgepole, and alpine. Many any drought-adapted scrub species can be found in this region. This is a mountainous area, with peaks up to 11,550 feet (3500 m). Plants here grow in zones.

California Montane Chaparral & Woodlands
© 2005 Natasha Sherman

Only about 30 percent of California Montane Chaparral is still intact. Grazing, mining, cotton growing, installation of windmill "farms," logging, air pollution, and high-impact recreational activities such as off-road vehicle use are current and future threats to this ecoregion.

Other areas of chaparral country include California coastal sage and chaparral which extends from northeastern Baja California, Mexico, northward along the Pacific into southern California in the United States. This ecoregion has over 150 species of butterflies and the highest species richness of native bees. California interior chaparral and woodlands is a combination of grasslands, chaparral shrublands, open oak savannas, oak woodlands, serpentine communities, closed-cone pine forests, pockets of montane conifer forests, wetlands, salt marshes, and riparian forests. Places to see this habitat includes:
California: Sequoia National Park; Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, Mendocino, and Shasta-Trinity national forests; Pinnacles National Monument; Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area; Cuyamaca Rancho, Fremont Peak and Mount Diablo state parks; Griffith Park (Los Angeles)

Animal life includes:Dusky-footed Woodrat, Brush Rabbit, Gray Fox, Coyote, Bobcat, Mule Deer, California Quail, Anna's Hummingbird, Scrub Jay, Wrentit, Bushtit, Bewick's Wren, California Thrasher, Rufous-sided towhee, White-crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow

Plant life includes: Coast Live Oak, Hollyleaf Cherry, Birchleaf Cercocarpus, Our Lord's Candle, Manzanitas, Tayon, Chamise, Buckbrush, Deerweed, Chia, Nuttall's Bedstraw, Ithuriel's Spear.