This plant community occurs in a number of locations at Stanford. This community is dominated by a mix of coast live oaks, blue oaks, valley oaks, and California buckeye. Understory species include shrubs such as poison oak, toyon, common snowberry, blue elderberry, western leatherwood, and occasional dense patches of coyote brush along the edges of the woodland. Common grass species and herbs found beneath the oak woodland canopy include ripgut brome, bedstraw, wide-leaf filaree, soft chess, Italian rye, soft geranium, Indian lettuce, and goldenback fern.

The wildlife typically associated with oak woodland at Stanford include: bobcat, gray fox, western gray squirrel, California ground squirrel, black-tailed deer, deer mouse, San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat, broad-footed mole, acorn woodpecker, band-tailed pigeon, northern flicker, and western scrub jay. Oak trees and other hardwoods in this community provide shelter, shade, and breeding habitat for mammal species such as raccoon, striped skunk, and cottontail rabbits.

The abundant insect and plant life present in the oak woodlands provides food for bird species such as white-breasted nuthatch, California thrasher, bushtit, oak titmouse, dark-eyed junco, blue-grey gnatcatcher, Bewick’s wren, spotted towhee, California quail, mourning dove, Anna’s hummingbird, and ash-throated flycatcher. A wide variety of woodpecker species are primary-cavity nesters in oak trees, while house wren, western bluebird, and American kestrel are secondary-cavity nesters (i.e., utilizing abandoned woodpecker cavities). Coastal oak woodland is also important to neotropical migrant songbirds (i.e., warblers, vireos, grosbeaks) providing feeding, resting, and nesting habitats. Raptors that nest and forage in the oak woodland habitat include great horned owl, barn owl, western screech owl, red-tailed hawk, and red-shouldered hawk. Cooper’s hawk, white-tailed kite, and golden eagle are additional special-status bird species that have been recorded in woodlands and grasslands of the Stanford foothills.

More than 10 species of bats are found in the Stanford area, and individuals of some species roost in tree cavities. Townsend’s big-eared bats are occasionally recorded at Stanford and probably utilize local woodlands and riparian areas on a regular basis, at least for foraging.

Amphibian and reptile species that are found in the oak woodlands at Stanford include: California tiger salamander, western toad, Pacific treefrog, California slender salamander, arboreal salamander, sharp-tailed snake, ringneck snake, California kingsnake, gopher snake, western terrestrial gartersnake, western skink, western fence lizard, southern alligator lizard and northern alligator lizard. It is likely that California red-legged frogs regularly utilize many of the oak woodlands at Stanford.

Click here to view images of oak woodland/savanna.

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