Plants and Animals

The San Rafael Hills lie almost entirely within the chaparral plant community, as defined by Munz[8] and later authors, including Sawyer et al.[9] This dense, shrub-dominated community is more highly developed on the north-facing slopes than on the drier, hotter south-facing slopes. Among the shrub species that characterize this community, prominent in the San Rafaels are laurel sumac (Malosma laurina), toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) and two species of California-lilac (Ceanothus crassifolius and C. oliganthus). Native trees are restricted to protected canyons and sites along the largely seasonal watercourses. Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica), California sycamore (Platanus racemosa) and several species of willow (Salix spp.) are the most common.

The San Rafael Hills are an urban wildlife island completely surrounded by development. Among the large mammals, coyote (Canis latrans) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are the most common; mountain lions (Puma concolor) have occasionally been reported. The many rodent species support a population of western rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis). Of the numerous bird species present, the most characteristic of the chapparal here, and throughout California, is the small, seldom seen but often heard wrentit (Chamaea fasciata).[10] With its call of three or four chirps followed by an accelerating trill, often likened to the sound of a dropped ping-pong ball, the wrentit provides the most characteristic sound of the chaparral. (Lifted from Wikipedia)

Glendale City Wildlife Webpage

Brown Bear

Critical Safety Warnings


  1. Avoid contact with poison oak.
  2. Never cut or trim trees until you’ve first clicked here to read the City of Glendale’s guidelines protecting indigenous trees. Without the proper permits, cutting the wrong tree can result in big fines or worse.


  1. Avoid contact with rattlesnakes.
  2. Never feed the wildlife.
  3. Never put pet food outside where wildlife can find it.
  4. Keep your pets indoors.  (see #2 about feeding wildlife)

Being surrounded by nature is essential to what makes living in Chevy Chase so unique and so wonderful, but being surrounded by nature and wildlife also demands a respect for the natural order of things.  Feeding the wildlife upsets that balance causing tragic consequences for both man and animal as reported in this story from Chevy Chase Canyon.


Click here for information from the Glendale Police Department regarding bears.

A Must Watch for Residents of Chevy Chase!

Everything all canyon dwellers need to know about living with coyotes is covered in this fantastic 54 minute video.  The first thing to understand about coyotes is that they are very smart, and learn fast.  The trick taught in this presentation is how to harness their smarts to make living with them safe and hassle free.  One other fact about coyotes, killing them never ever works.   Urban Wildlife Specialist Lynsey White Dasher from the Humane Society of the United States gave this presentation in the City of Huntington Beach on August 14, 2012.