Lots of people visit Yosemite and are surprised at the lack of wildlife they find here. Some national parks, like Yellowstone, have many more wildlife viewing opportunities than Yosemite.

In Yosemite, people often notice squirrels and birds. Less often, they notice deer or coyotes, and much less often, they see a bear. So, we say Yosemite isn’t a wildlife park in the way that a park like Yellowstone is.

But, we lie.

California spotted owl in Yosemite West

California spotted owl in Yosemite West

The other night, while driving home, I saw something odd atop a roadside snow pole (the poles that mark the edge of the road for snowplows). After a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dark, I realized I was seeing an owl–a California spotted owl. Yosemite is home to eight different species of owls… but only one kind of deer, one kind of coyote, one kind of bear. And we say Yosemite isn’t a wildlife park!

Indeed, Yosemite hosts at least 165 different species of birds! Plus another 90 that have only been seen a few times.  There are probably fewer than 80 different species of mammals in Yosemite (what most people think of when they think of wildlife). Seventeen of these mammal species are bats (apparently the diversity is in the sky).

So, Yosemite is a wildlife park–but you have to look up to see most of the animals.

Yosemite’s website has more information about birding. It’s a relaxing thing to do (and something you can do wherever you live, although doing it in Yosemite has its perks!)