Arboreal Salamander

Arboreal Salamander – Aneides lugubris This salamander is commonly seen in moist shaded yards and gardens in Northern California, especially around the Bay Area. It also occurs along the coast through southern California, and north to Humboldt county along the coast and northern coast ranges, as well as in the central Sierra Nevada foothills. These salamanders can be seen walking ... Read More »


Dragonflies are predators, both in their aquatic larval stage, when they are known as nymphs or naiads, and as adults. Several years of their life are spent as a nymph living in freshwater; the adults may be on the wing for just a few days or weeks. They are fast agile fliers, sometimes migrating across oceans, and are often but ... Read More »

A Yellow Bumble Bee (Not)

Visiting my Sunnyvale garden are a variety of bees: Honey bees, small Mason bees, and big fat Bumble bees (that turn out to be Carpenter bees). Then, this fine early March day, I spot an enormous yellow bumble bee in the air around one of our apricot trees. It hovers near the blossoms,  but meanders in three dimensions, never once ... Read More »



You hear what sounds like a couple of men running across your roof. They stop. They start wrestling, rolling around. You go outside and shine a flashlight: Bandit eyes! It’s a couple of juvenile racoons playing around. Where I live is about 4 miles from wilderness. If you have a fish pond, good luck to you. If you have cats, ... Read More »

Coast Range Fence Lizard

Coast Range Western Lizard

Our Sunnyvale garden has a resident Coast Range Fence Lizard. He has been spotted near the parking strip in front, on the side yard, and in and around the back yard. Yeah, that’s only one hundred feet but to a 3-inch long lizard that is the back-40. Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii is a subspecies of the Western fence lizard. This taxon, ... Read More »

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

If you’ve been hearing an endless string of 10 or 15 different birds singing outside your house, you might have a Northern Mockingbird in your yard. These slender-bodied gray birds pour all their color into their personalities. They sing almost endlessly, even sometimes at night, and they flagrantly harass birds that intrude on their territories, flying slowly around them or ... Read More »

American Crow


The Crow is a very common bird in the neighborhood but rarely appears in my backyard. The most likely reason is that the crow has decided there is not enough room to evaluate threats and escape. We often see crows in the cypress trees in a neighbor’s yard. American Crows are familiar over much of the continent: large, intelligent, all-black ... Read More »

Scrub Jay

Wester Scrub Jay, Blue Jay

The type of blue jay we see in Sunnyvale are the Western Scrub Jay. Robin-sized, but large strong bill and long tail make it appear larger. Head, wings, and tail blue (conspicuous when it glides in a long, undulating flight). Their back is dull brown; underparts light gray. No crest; dusky face mask. White throat offset by incomplete blue necklace. ... Read More »

Wild Parrots of Sunnyvale

wild parrot of sunnyvale

A flock of wild parrots hang out most often in the area near El Camino Ave and Mathilda Ave, in Sunnyvale, where Matilda turns into Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road.  At various times and, particularly, towards the end of the day, they congregate in Los Palmas Park, just a few blocks away. A cluster of palm trees in the park provide a safe ... Read More »