Generally, these woodlands have an overstory of scattered trees, although the canopy can be nearly closed on better quality sites (Pillsbury and De Lasaux 1983). The density of blue oaks on slopes with shallow soils is directly related to water stress (Griffin 1973). The canopy is dominated by broad-leaved trees 5 to 15 m (16 to 50 ft) tall, commonly forming open savanna-like stands on dry ridges and gentle slopes. Shrubs are often present but rarely extensive, often occurring on rock outcrops. Typical understory is composed of an extension of Annual Grassland vegetation.

Blue oak is the dominant species, comprising 85 to 100 percent of the trees present. Common associates in the canopy are coast live oak in the Coast Range, interior live oak in the Sierra Nevada, valley oak where deep soil has formed’ Associated shrub species include poison-oak, California coffeeberry, buckbrush, redberry, California buckeye, and manzanita spp.


Year-round Residents: California Quail, Mourning Dove, Killdeer, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Acorn Woodpecker, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, Black Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, California Scrub-Jay, Yellow-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Oak Titmouse, Bushtit, Wrentit, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bewick’s Wren, California Thrasher, European Starling, Northern Mockingbird, Western Bluebird, Phainopepla, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Lark Sparrow, California Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Brewer’s Blackbird

Winter Visitors: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Summer Visitors: Green Heron, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Violet-Green Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, House Wren, Brown-headed Cowbird, Bullock’s Oriole, Black-headed Grosbeak.