California Wildlife, A Practical Guide
April 2000, Foghorn Outdoors, June 2000, First Edition
Here is the only wildlife book ever produced with the entire package; It is fun, entertaining, beautiful,
educational and scientific - and also provides the information on how to make wildlife adventure part of your
life. It was written with the intent that it will quickly become your wildlife bible for California. California
Wildlife appeals to childen and adults.
The book describes everything from bears to Bigfoot (!); whales, bats, owls, golden trout . . . in all, the most
significant 101 species of California, featuring mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. And an added bonus is a
listing of the top locations to see each species, with detailed directions and contacts to get you there.
Featured are the stories and characterizations of each species by award-winning author Tom Stienstra, with
the brilliant art work of Paul Johnson. Biologists from the California Department of Fish and Game also
provided scientific portraits.
Want interesting wildlife facts? You'll get them with this book:
- The canvasback is the fastest flying duck. They have been chased at speeds of 70 miles per hour.
- The number of points in the antlers of a buck deer is not an indicator of age. The quality and quantity of
good food govern the number of antler points as well as the size of the antlers.
- The gopher snake is the largest snake in California, reaching a length of eight feet.
- The last verifiable California grizzly bear was killed in 1922, in Fresno County.
- The beaver is the largest member of the rodent family in North America.
- Pronghorn antelope have been clocked at 60 miles per hour, the swiftest mammal in the Western
- A mated pair of Canada goose live in harmonic parallel in a life that can span 50 years. When one calls,
the other answers. When one locks its wings and glides down to a pond, the other follows. Unlike so many
other creatures, they both tend their young. They are a team. They fly together, eat together, drink together,
sleep together and nest together.
- The ocean dolphin is actually a small, toothed whale, in the same family as the killer whale.
- The peregrine falcon is the fastest thing alive, capable of reaching 200 mph.
- An adult mountain lion requires about 70 square miles of range, and as new lions are born, they are
pushed out by the adults into new areas. As the lion population grows, these new areas include where people are
apt to be. The mountain lion is the only animal in California to be designated a "Specially Protected Mammal"
by public ballot.
- An owl's eyesight is about 100 times as sensitive to light as that of a human.
- Porcupines are born with hundreds of inch-long quills, but they do not become sharp until they dry,
several hours after birth.
- The desert tortoise, when alarmed, can spring at a speed of 20 feet per minute. They can live to be ancient;
one lived in captivity for 152 years before it was killed accidentally. The tortoise has existed on earth in its
present form for millions of years.
Author's Notes: One evening while working on this book, I asked my family that if they could choose to
be any animal, bird, fish or reptile, then "What would they be?"
Kris, 8, answered "bald eagle," and then explained why: "Because they can fly high and fast, they're smart
and have great eyesight, and they're illegal to shoot." His brother, Jeremy, 11, said he would prefer being a duck,
a drake mallard in particular. "Because they can do it all, fly swim, dive and walk," he explained, "and plus
they're pretty, with their shiny heads." My wife, Stephani, said she would like to be an owl. "They are gifted
flyers, silent at night, and they are majestic birds especially at sunset, and they get a lot of respect from people
and other animals."
The irony of these answers, as well as other such answers provided by many who love wildlife, is that these
species are once again abundant after being nearly wiped out early last century. In fact, in an analysis of the
state's wildlife history, you will discover that many species are at population highs. There are more ducks, geese,
elk, mountain lions, sea lions, white shark, largemouth bass, turkey, pelican, raccoon, sandhill crane, sea otter,
squirrel, swan, wild pig, sturgeon, whales and many other creatures than at anytime in the past 100 years. It is a
testimonial that we are back on the right track, though there are still threats . . .
You see, I believe deep in the core of public consciousness is something good, and that given a choice
between good or evil, mankind as a collective will always choose good. Such are the choices with the critters we
love so much.
Enjoy California's great natural resources. I have learned that when people learn to love something, that is
when they are most apt to protect it.
The outdoors is good for the soul. An adventure can refresh the spirit, especially while sharing the world of
your favorite wildlife, whether it be elk, the eagle, bear, the salmon, the tortoise - or who knows, heh, heh, maybe
See you out there!