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California is a large state, the 3rd largest in the U.S.A., and depending on where you go, can range broadly in habitat type and, also, climate. For this reason, California plays host to a huge variety of fauna. A trip to the state of California for purposes of seeing wildlife will not lead to a disappointing experience. Here, we will provide a run down of some of the wonderful creatures you might hope to find in the U.S.’s most populous state.
As of 2007, there are 634 bird species on the California Birds Records Committee, ten of which are introduced species, i.e. not native to the state. One bird, the very sociable California Quail, is the official state bird and has a breeding habit of mainly shrubby areas and open woodland. Another fabulous bird which winters in California is the American White Pelican which is a large sea bird, with a wingspan reaching up to 110”.
The magnificent California Condor is a large black vulture which inhabits the coastal mountains of California, as well as the Grand Canyon and Baja California. The beautiful California Condor is one of the world’s rarest bird species, so if you happen to catch a glimpse of one, consider yourself very lucky! Finally, talking about birds which you could hope to see in California, we can’t forget the impressive national bird and symbol of the United States; the Bald Eagle, which is the only sea eagle native only to North America.
From the impressively large to the small, but nonetheless intimidating, in California you can also find a wide range of spiders, should that be your thing! Often seen wandering in search of mates, the Aphonopelma tarantula is a native to California. With quite a reputation to its name, on a visit to the state, you can also encounter a Black Widow, the only spider that you are likely to encounter in California whose venom is medically significant. The fabulously vibrant Green Lynx Spider can also be spotted in gardens, guarding its egg sacks.
Slipping into the waters off the southern coast of California, we have the California Sea Lion, which can grow up to 7 feet long and hangs out in shallow ocean water, beaches and rocks. With its habitat in the open ocean, a less commonly seen ‘pinniped’ is the Northern Elephant Seal which can grow up to a massive 14 ft and has a population of just over 150,000.
And finally, back to dry land, preying mainly on mule deer is the magnificent Mountain Lion or Cougar. This beautiful cat is not to be confused with its slightly lighter cousin, the Bobcat. The Mountain Lion has a tan-colored coat with a long and heavy tail, whereas the Bobcat has a gray to brown coat, a whiskered face and distinctive black-tufted ears. Not all of California’s mammals are predators of course, as shown by the presence of the elegant Mule Deer; in April to June, you may enjoy a glimpse of a beautiful little Mule Deer fawn.
California; a state with a huge variety of wildlife!