Black-tailed Deer

Scientific: Odocoileus hemionus
Spanish: Ciervo de cola negra
Awaswas: Tote, Tooche

Diet: Grasses, shrubs, berries, lichen
Habitat: Grasslands, forests, woodlands
California Status: Least Concern

Deer are most active in the evening and early morning when they venture into open spaces to graze on grasses and other plants. During the day and night, they often seek cover under the canopy in forests or woodlands. Deer are an important food source for large predators like mountain lions. If predator populations decline, deer populations can boom, causing over-grazing of grasslands.

What relationship do you think humans have with deer, both historically, and today?

Pacific Gopher Snake

Scientific: Pituophis catenifer
Spanish: Serpiente de Gopher del Pacífico
Awaswas: Siwot

Diet: Small mammals, birds, lizards
Habitat: Grasslands, open woodlands
California Status: Least Concern

This strong constrictor will kill its prey by coiling its body or pressing the animal up against the wall of its burrow. While they are not venomous, gophers snakes will sometimes vibrate their tails to mimic a rattlesnake and warn off predators. You can differentiate these harmless reptiles from rattlesnakes by the lack of a triangular head and rattle.

Red-tailed Hawk

Scientific: Buteo jamaicensis
Spanish: Halcón de cola roja
Awaswas: Káknu

Diet: Small mammals, song birds, snakes
Habitat: Widespread in many types of habitats, especially open country
California Status: Least Concern

Adapted For Hunting In Different Habitats
There are at least a dozen species in the family Accipitridae that migrate through or reside in the county. They are collectively adapted to every habitat in the region and can often be found anywhere there are high perches available from which to hunt. Red-tailed hawks are the most common hawk you will spot in our region and can be easily identified by their red tail.

Ohlone Tiger Beetle

Scientific: Cicindela ohlone
Spanish: Escarabajo tigre de Ohlone

Diet: Arthropods
Habitat: Grasslands on coastal prairie terraces
Status: Endangered

Named after the Indigenous culture of the area, the Ohlone tiger beetle is a federally endangered species that exists in only a handful of locations, all in Santa Cruz County. Adults are active on sunny days between January and May, and use bare ground for mating, basking, hunting, and larval development within burrows. Because of this, they tend to be found on trails, making them susceptible to trampling, especially by cyclists travelling at more than 5 mph along trails, too fast for the beetle’s ability to react and fly out of the way.


Scientific: Canis latrans
Spanish: Coyote
Awaswas: Mayyán, Wakshes

Diet: Deer, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and sometimes plants
Habitat: Widespread throughout North America
Status: Least Concern

Features in Folklore
Many Native American tribes, especially those in the West, have featured coyote figures in their stories and mythologies. Coyotes are cast as tricksters, warriors or thieves, but many tales take note of their intelligence and adaptability. 

Friend or Foe?
Coyotes often inhabit the wildland urban interface. Over 500,000 coyotes have been killed in California since 1891, mostly under the guise of protecting livestock. However, coyotes may do more good than harm to people by eating other animals that are considered pests.

What are some small mammals that might be the prey of coyotes and harmful to people, farms, and ranchland?

Black-tailed Jackrabbit

Scientific: Lepus californicus
Spanish: Liebre de cola negra
Awaswas: Cheyyesh

Diet: Grasses, herbs and shrubs
Habitat: Grasslands, chaparral
California Status: Least Concern

Catch Me If You Can
Black-tailed jackrabbits are one of the fastest animals in North America. They run in bursts of up to 30-35 mph and make quick maneuvers to escape predators. They can become agricultural pests if their natural enemies (coyotes, bobcats and eagles) are removed.