You Shared Your Favorite Wild Animals in California

It’s Thursday. Hummingbirds, rattlesnakes, bears — you told us about your favorite neighborhood wildlife. Plus, a new report delivers a sweeping indictment of California State University’s handling of sexual misconduct cases.

To live in California is to live alongside nature.

Our proximity to rugged mountains, miles of coastline and sprawling forests often also means proximity to the creatures that make their homes in these expanses.

When I was growing up in Ventura County, I had one too many encounters with snakes, and my high school once was locked down because a black bear was approaching campus. In San Francisco, where I live now, a lanky coyote recently darted in front of my car, a phenomenon I’m familiar with from years spent in Los Angeles. And, of course, there are the wild zebras of San Simeon, the sea otters of Monterey Bay, the peacocks of South Pasadena and many more.

Once in a while, one of these creatures acquires celebrity status locally, popping up in neighborhood chatter and becoming a character in our daily lives. Inspired by my colleague Jill Cowan’s recent article about Los Angeles’s favorite mountain lion, P-22, we asked for your stories about beloved wild animals in your corner of California.

Here’s some of what readers shared, lightly edited:

“Over the past several years, we have shared our restaurant property with a rather precocious but friendly bear. He comes in the spring and disappears around Christmas. Rupert, the name we’ve given the bear, lounges around the back lot area and keeps the grubs and blackberries under control, seldom venturing into our main backyard. Our dog, Rosie, of course, remains on alert. — Terry Eilers, Mount Shasta

“Albert the albino peacock is quite well known in Boulder Creek, where, during the C.Z.U. Lightning Complex fires, locals tried to evacuate him, but he was too big and couldn’t fit into anything. Because the town didn’t burn, he was fine and, as far as I know, is still alive and around today. Some posters and T-shirts were made with his image as a symbol of resilience, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.” — Laura Testa-Reyes, Boulder Creek

“Several years ago, almost every evening, my wife and I hiked up to the summit of a local mountain, Mission Point. Once, on our way down, we noticed a hole in the dirt path. Our headlamps revealed a tarantula inside. Each night for two weeks we visited ‘Tommy’ until he disappeared, without notice. Later, we learned that Tommy was probably a ‘she,’ either guarding her eggs or waiting in her den for a roving male as a mate — and maybe a meal.” — Jim Davis, Northridge

“A hummingbird once flew into my living-room window, and I found him lying stunned on the patio. I picked him up to protect him from the neighbor’s cat, swooping hawks and my chocolate lab. I held him in my closed hands for five minutes to allow him to recover. Then I opened my hands and let him rest until he felt strong enough to fly away. He stayed still for about five more minutes and let me stroke his head and under his beak. Then he flew off, circled around me a couple of times, and then landed on my shoulder and stayed there for two or three minutes before flying off.” — Susan Rogers, Carmel

“Snakey is a green Pacific rattlesnake who has taken up residence under my front deck in Ojai. He likes to come out and sun himself once in a while in a place I would never step into. Then he goes back under the porch, only to return on another sunny day to the same spot. He doesn’t bother me, and I don’t bother him. He dines on rodents, and I have the fun of watching him.” — Kathy Broesamle, Ojai

“While snorkeling at Topanga Beach in 2021, I started noticing a small Garibaldi that would swim close by. In the spring of 2022, I saw a similar Garibaldi, a bit bigger, but with similar patterns on its body. This one was swimming in the same areas as the previous year and was not too afraid of me. I would break apart a sea urchin and hold the uni out to the fish, and it would eat right out of my hand. After examining my photographs, I confirmed it was likely the same fish from the previous year, so I named it Trigger, and every time since, when I snorkel there, I make sure to look for Trigger and feed it some uni. — Andy Cracchiolo, Los Angeles

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How TikTok shares user data.

The rest of the news

Feinstein: Should Dianne Feinstein resign to let Democrats fill her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee? According to Hillary Clinton, the answer is no.

Cal State investigation: A new report found widespread flaws in the way sexual misconduct cases are handled by California State University and recommended wholesale changes, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Debt limit: Kevin McCarthy, the House speaker, renewed his call for President Biden and congressional Democrats to accept spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit.


Youth prisons ordered to close: State regulators have deemed Los Angeles County’s troubled juvenile prisons to be “unsuitable for the confinement of youth” and have ordered the county to shut them down, The Associated Press reports.

Ghost town mystery: One of California’s biggest ghost towns, near Joshua Tree National Park, was bought for $22.6 million by an obscure private company, The Los Angeles Times reports.

San Diego restaurants: The San Diego City Council voted this week to require coastal eateries to find alternative parking spaces to replace spots that have been taken up by streetside dining areas, KNSD-TV reports.


Income inequality: The Fresno area is one of the most economically distressed regions in California. A public-private partnership is trying to change that, CalMatters reports.


Protesters: An outdoor meeting of the San Francisco board of supervisors, held to confront Mayor London Breed about her administration’s response to the city’s drug crisis, was cut short by protesters, The Associated Press reports.

Shrinking households: Data from the state’s Department of Finance shows that among large Bay Area cities, San Francisco had one of the steepest declines in people per household over the past decade, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Nina Ricceri, who recommends Carrizo Plain National Monument:

“We visited on a cloud-free Saturday afternoon, after a perfect drive along Highway 166 past Twitchell Reservoir. I had no clue how we would get into the Carrizo Plain National Monument after my phone had led us to a spot with many beautiful flowers but zero entrance. So we kept driving. Eventually we made it to Soda Lake Road and were greeted by purples and yellows and so many bugs I couldn’t believe. Our goal was to make it to the Soda Lake, and that we did. Our walk along the boardwalk there was buggy but oh, so serene. Two hundred miles round-trip was well worth it. And we made it home before dark!”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

And before you go, some good news

U.C.S.F. Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco held a prom this month for its patients, giving them a chance to take part in a high school ritual they may have otherwise missed, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. It was the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began that the event had been held.

The hospital’s staff members transformed a small auditorium into a dance floor, with a D.J. and décor appropriate for the event’s theme, Old Hollywood. They put out popcorn and candy for patients to take back to their rooms.

Destiny Kates, 15, has been battling osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, for more than two years. She had her face painted with butterflies for the dance.

“I will match my dress perfectly,” she told the news outlet. “I just like butterflies, and I envisioned it when I saw my dress.”

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Briana Scalia and Johnna Margalotti contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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Soumya Karlamangla is the lead writer for the California Today newsletter, where she provides daily insights and updates from her home state. @skarlamangla

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