Tag Archives: Endemic

The Perks of Being Wildflowers

Spring is in bloom and wildflowers of all colors are decorating our hillsides on Catalina Island.  Just look at them! Bright red Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja affinis (Fig. 1) and white Bush Anemone (Fig. 2) are some you are likely to see while hiking around. Starting with the south facing slopes, the island begins a transition from the more earth toned brown landscape of summer and fall into one of vibrant and cheerful colors from February through May.  The Shooting star, Dodecatheon clevelandii, is a favorite for many people, with its purple shape (Fig. 3), while the Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum, are a form of wild onion that was used by native Tongva for food (Fig.4)


Wildflowers 4Wildflowers 5But where do they hide all year long? Well, one of the perks of being a wildflower is that you don’t have to make an appearance all year long!  These wildflowers are known as “annuals”, meaning the seeds will germinate in the fall or winter rains, flowers will bloom in the spring, and then they ripen to seed towards the end of the spring season. This completes the annual cycle and allows it to start again.  

As the south facing slopes are exposed to more sunlight for longer periods throughout the day, these slopes will tend to bloom earlier in the wildflower season, followed by the shadier north facing slopes.

After a heavy rain season this year, the abundance of wildflowers is noticeably greater than in past years of drought.  As it turns out, in order for the wildflower seeds to germinate, they require continued moisture, or at least enough that the soil remains moist.  Without this, the plants will dry out before they get to flower! We really enjoy these annual bursts of color, so rain, rain, don’t go away!

Wildflowers 2

Baby blue eyes, Nemophila menziesii, is only known to exist in one population on Catalina Island. Photo by Amy Catalano

Wildflowers 3

Deerweed, Acmispon dendroideus, are endemic to the Channel Islands. Photo by Amy Catalano

Photos by Monica





Catalina Quail: Endemic & Entertaining

The Catalina California Quail (Callipepla californica catalinensis) are endemic to the Channel Islands, meaning they are only found here! With their round bodies and curled plume protruding from their heads, they are both adorable and intriguing. They can often be found in a small flock, called a covey, to feed or take a dust bath in loose soil. On Catalina Island, quail are usually found in the hillside or feeding on the side of a trail in camp. They primarily eat seeds and leaves, including Toyon berries!


Quail Cover photo

Catalina California Quail are currently considered a Bird Species of Special Concern (year round), priority 3. The timing and amount of annual rain and the types and abundance of plants are the variables that affect quail success the most. The biggest threats to quail habitat have been the removal of invasive herbivores and wild boars, the increase of feral cat populations and long-term fire suppression methods. These factors have increased the growth of dense scrubs and woodland, which is not suitable for quail to live in or eat. Multiple solutions have been proposed to help generate more suitable habitat for the quail on Catalina Island.

One of our favorite things about the Catalina California Quail is how it moves. Quail prefer to run instead of flying, their head plumes bobbing back and forth as they move. There is nothing better than seeing a covey of 15 quail running at top speed with their heads bobbing! Whenever the pitter-patter of small feet is heard, we turn to look for quail running down the road. The sight always makes us let out an “aww” and a laugh at the same time. So much so that we decided to try and imitate our favorite feathered friends! Hope you enjoyed the video!


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