Ecological Communities

San Pedro Rock
San Pedro Rock is an important roosting and nesting spot for numerous species of seabirds. Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants, and Westerrn Gulls nest on the rock. Those three species plus Brown Pelicans and several other species of gulls roost there. Peregrine Falcons can sometimes be spotted sitting on high ledges and crags. Large numbers of Harbor Seals haul-out along the rock’s southern shore.


Coastal Scrub

coastal scrub1The two dominant species of shrub in this first photo are Coyote Bush or Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis) and California Sage (Artemisia californica). The characteristic birds of this habitat are Wrentit, Bewick’s Wren, California Thrasher, Spotted Towhee, and the Nuttall’s race of White-crowned Sparrow, all permanent residents, plus, in winter, Fox Sparrow.

The most conspicuous mammal in this habitat is Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani). The summer fog is important in the maintenance of this community. Due to the fog, there is a rich growth of lichens on the branches of the Coyote Bush and California Sage.

Coastal Prairie

Coastal Prairie is a threatened habitat along the central California coast. In winter, Say’s Phoebe can be found in this habitat, and during spring and fall migration seasons, Northern Harrier and Short-eared Owl might be seen hunting over it. Calamagrostis_nutkaensis_20100611_4718.2The photo to the left shows California fescue (Festuca californica) growing on a steep slope above San Pedro Rock. The second photo to the right shows Pacific Reed-grass (Calamagrostis nutkaenensis.)

Monterey Pine woods

PineMonterey Pine, while occurring naturally in the Año Nuevo area about 30 miles to the south, was introduced on the headlands. Many birds such as the Pygmy Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, and Steller’s Jay can be found in the small patches of Monterey Pine woods on the headlands. In winter, mixed-species flocks of small insectivorous birds, such as Townsend’s and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Chestnut-backed Chickadees move around from patch to patch.

Eucalyptus forest

Eucalyptus_globulus_20100712_8077.2Eucalyptus is another introduced species on the headlands, originating in Australia. During the nesting season, many species of neotropical migrant songbirds, such as Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood Pewee, and Swainson’s Thrush can be found nesting in this habitat. All through the year, Pacific Wrens can be found moving through the thick undergrowth.

Background Documents

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