Canyon Wildlife

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Photos and article by David Holts

It’s spring time and San Diego’s Canyonlands, including our canyons here in University Heights, are blooming with native plants and wildlife. San Diego’s canyon complex allows wildlife to easily move from the coast to the Lagunas and to Anza Borrego. The canyons provide an abundant habitat for many mammal, bird and reptile species. These include Grey foxes, skunks, opossums, raccoons, coyotes, squirrels and rats. Many bird species nest and/or migrate through these canyons this time of year. Watch for nesting birds from the small Anna’s hummingbird, to Black-hooded orioles and large raptors including Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks and Great-horned owls. Although not seen often, the canyons also provide good habitat for garter and gopher snakes.


The dusk to dawn period is especially busy with mammals. Skunks, foxes and raccoons are out looking for food, including cleaning out your vegetable garden and fruit trees. Opossums are an introduced marsupial in San Diego and, while not very pretty, they serve an important role by eating insects, snails small rodents and uncollected fallen fruit from our fruit trees. Coyotes are abundant in our neighborhood looking for small rodents and any cats or small dogs left outside at night. Pets should never be left outside after dark. Hardly a week goes by without a new sign posted describing a missing pet. Read more about urban wildlife and local resources available to answer questions regarding compassionate co-existence.

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