Lava Beds

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Animals


California ground squirrel
California ground squirrel

California Ground Squirrel
Our most often seen mammal in the warmer seasons, these squirrels are easily identified by the dark gray patch between their shoulders. They often perch on small trees, shrubs, or rock outcrops and survey the area for predators or territorial rivals.

American pika
American pika

American Pika
The pika is a fascinating little relative of rabbits - it is not closely related to rodents like squirrels, mice and rats. In fact, it is often called a “rock rabbit,” even though they lack tails and have small, rounded ears. Pika usually live in cold alpine areas. They survive in the lava beds because they keep cool in the caves and cave collapse areas, where they live among the rocky talus as they would on high mountain slopes. Their population in the Great Basin has been studied as an example of how climate change can impact species dependant on cooler temperatures.

Woodrat
Woodrat

Woodrats
Woodrats, often called “packrats,” are commonly found in caves and in old juniper stands. In both places, their large nests of twigs and branches are conspicuous. Look for them in the trees near the last sharp turn at the top of the Schonchin Butte trail. If you hear a loud hissing while exploring a cave, it’s an angry little woodrat trying to defend his home. Don’t be alarmed, these little guys make lots of noise, but stay well hidden.

Kangaroo rat
Kangaroo rat

Kangaroo Rat
Any visitor that drives monument roads at night is likely to encounter these little rodents hopping around on their hind legs, their long tufted tail flying around behind them. The secret to their success in this environment is their body's ability to generate water from the seeds and vegetation they eat. They never have to drink liquid water their entire lives!

Jackrabbit
Jackrabbit

Black-Tailed Jack Rabbit
There are two kinds of rabbits: true rabbits such as the desert cottontail commonly found in the monument, and the hares. Jack rabbits are a kind of hare, easilly identified by their larger size, longer legs, and remarkable ears. They use these ears the same way elephants do, to cool themselves in warm weather by circulating blood through them. Their large surface area allows body heat to radiate away.

Badger
Badger

Badger
Burrowing predators, badgers are our largest member of the weasel family. They are not common, but might be seen throughout the park. They have a fierce demeanor, and should not be approached, despite only being the size of a stocky housecat. They eat almost anything they can catch, but primarily hunt burrowing rodents. They are powerful diggers, and quickly excavate deep into the dens of their prey with a tremedous display of flying dirt.

Bobcat
Bobcat

Bobcat
Our smallest and most common wild cat, the largest males grow to around 30 pounds, females to 20. They have a very small tail, and are spotted all over. A mother and her cubs are often seen at night on the park roads, another good reason to obey speed limits and be on the lookout for wildlife when traveling around the park.
Image credit >>

Mountain Lion
Mountain Lion
Image from automated wildlife camera operated by NPS staff
Mountain Lion
Call them what you will: panther, puma, cougar, or mountain lion, these large cats are majestic animals. They average 150 pounds as adults, though some reach an astonishing 250 pounds. Besides their much greater size, they have a very long tail and even coloration, easily distinguishing them from bobcats. They are "crepuscular," meaning most active at dusk and dawn, when visitors are encouraged to hike in groups and understand how to be safe in "lion country."

[[image:http://www.nps.gov/labe/naturescience/images/deer[1].jpg width="150" caption="Mule Deer"]]
Mule Deer
Larger than white-tailed deer, mule deer are named for the resemblance of their ears to those of mules. Common year-round, in winter they gather into herds along Hill Road at the north end of the park, attracted by the farm fields and water of the Tulelake basin. Seemingly abandoned, fawns are often discovered hiding in tall grass or shrubs to evade predators. If you find one, please leave it alone


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Boreal Toad
Boreal Toad

Boreal Toad
Bufo boreas, the Western Toad, is widespread throughout the American west. The subspecies Bufo boreas boreas found at the Lava Beds is commonly known as the Boreal Toad, named for the cooler mountain climates it lives in. They are incredibly tolerant of a wide range of temperatures, often active as soon as mountain snows begin to melt.
Like other toads, their thick, warty skin allows adults to live away from water for long periods of time. However, they must return to standing water to lay up to and incredible 16,000 eggs in long strands anchored to aquatic vegetation. Their dark tadpoles metamorphose into young toads only a half-inch long, but they can grow to 5 inches over the next few years. Unlike most tadpoles, those of this species swim in schools!

Pacific Tree Frogs
Pacific Tree Frogs
Examples of the different colors of Pacific Tree Frog. Brown is most commonly seen here. matching their earthy surroundings.
Pacific Tree Frog
Technically a member of the tree frog family, this smallest amphibian in California (up to 2 inches long) is found in many habitats, including ones with few trees. It's range includes most of the west coast, from up to 11,000' in the mountains to coastal wetlands. Like the Boreal Toad, it lives at the Lava Beds in the cooler, moist microclimates at cave entrances and under the jumble of large rocks in lava flows.
These frogs have the incredible ability to change their skin color and tone in about ten minutes, according to their surroundings. This is slower than chameleon and anole lizards can change colors, but still serves the same purpose to hide from predators. They sport a variety of colors, including brown, tan, almost white, bright green, or salmon-pink.
Pacific Tree Frogs eat just about anything smaller than themselves, primarily insects and other small invertebrates. They breed in surprisingly small pools of rainwater, and are the most commonly encountered amphibian in the park.



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Pine Forest

White-headed Woodpecker
White-headed Woodpecker
Dave Menke, USFWS
White-headed Woodpecker
The unique plumage of the White-headed Woodpecker makes it unmistakable. This bird is also unique in that it forages for insects and grubs like other woodpeckers, but also eats the seeds of conifer trees, especially during the winter months. It nests in cavities made in dead but standing trees, often called "snags". It relies on natural wildfires to create these snags, and has become rare because of fire suppression and habitat reduction from logging.
Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco
These common birds are easily identified in flight by their prominent white outer tail feathers. They are often visitors to suburban backyards, and frequent birdfeeders for seeds. Small flocks mix with chichadees, titmice, and other small birds.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
A common bird in small flocks among junipers and pines in open woodlands, these very active birds seem to be in constant motion. They often chase and catch flying insects in acrobatic dogfights.

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Typical of other hawks in the “accipiter” family, this bird is best identified by its short, broad, rounded wings, straight squared tail, and red eyes. Females are considerably larger than males. The Sharp-shinned Hawk is very agile, and thus able to hunt small birds while flying swiftly through a dense forest.

Pygmy Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch
These lively, insectivore/seed eaters can frequently be seen in mixed flocks with Red-breasted Nuthatches, Juniper Titmice, Dark-eyed Juncos and other permanent residents of Lava Beds. Nuthatches climb down tree trunks headfirst in search of insects. On cold winter nights it huddles together with other nuthatches in a protected roost site, and allows its core body temperature to drop to near hypothermic levels. Their song is a distinctive "meep meep" heard from high in the trees.



Juniper & Shrub Woodland

Purple Martin
Purple Martin
Purple Martin
Due to predation and habitat destruction, Purple Martins in the Eastern United States have evolved to exclusively select manmade martin houses in which to nest. In the western U.S. however, this largest species of swallows continues to prefer natural nesting cavities, such as holes drilled into dead standing trees by woodpeckers. Here at Lava Beds, Purple Martins choose to roost and breed in rock crevices near cave entrances. Mornings and evenings these birds, which are designated as a “sensitive species” in the state of California, can be observed flying near the mouths of caves in search of insects.

Lazuli Bunting
Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting
The male Lazuli Bunting is a sight to behold with bright blue plumage, white wing patches and orange breast. After returning from their winter in the tropics, males sing loudly from the tops of trees to establish territories and attract a mate. Don’t confuse it with the similarly colored Western Bluebird, which is larger and has a narrower beak.

Western Bluebird
Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird
Male Western Bluebirds are bright blue with patches of chestnut on the breast, flanks and back. Females are overall much more drab with a distinctive white eye ring. This bluebird prefers to hunt insects in open woodlands or at the edges of fields, perching on fenceposts and then swooping down to snag prey.

Canyon Wren
Canyon Wren

Canyon Wren
Like most wrens, this small bird is very active and is often seen hunting for insects on rocky outcrops and cliffs. Rock, Bewicks and Marsh Wrens are also common in the park, but Canyon Wrens have a distinct and beautiful song; a long, melodic line of descending notes that echo in canyons throughout the west.

Western Scrub Jay
Western Scrub Jay

Scrub Jay
This loud songbird, like most Corvids (jays, magpies and ravens), is very intelligent. It will remember where it has cached food and if observed, will relocate stashes. You might be able to recognize the Western Scrub Jay in flight by its long tail, blue coloration on the upper side of the body and its undulating flight pattern. When perched, its grey back and white eyebrow and throat are diagnostic.

Townsend's Solitare
Townsend's Solitare

Townsend's Solitare
Townsend’s Solitaires can easily be viewed near the visitor center and the Cave Loop drive. These slender gray birds are highly territorial during the winter months in which they aggressively defend patches of juniper trees and their valuable berries. Though they are usually insect eaters, these birds eat almost nothing else during the winter.


Great Basin Shrub & Grasslands

Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark
These magnificent birds can often be seen perched on fences or small bushes as it surveys its territory. This state bird of Oregon has a loud, sweet, melodic song. They are ground-nesters, common in most upland habitats that lack trees.

Sage Thrasher
Sage Thrasher

Sage Thrasher
The smallest and only thrasher resident at Lava Beds, the Sage Thrasher prefers sagebrush and bitterbrush dominated landscapes intermixed with native grasses. This bird has demonstrated a strong distaste for cheatgrass which is an invasive grass over much of the western United States including Lava Beds National Monument.

Northern Harrier, male
Northern Harrier, male

Northern Harrier
The Northern Harrier can be viewed winging low over open grassland areas of the Lava Beds in the search for rodents and other small mammals. Differences between the male and female of this species are obvious. The undersides of the male are white while the back is pale gray, whereas the female is colored in a palette of brown and white. Both male and female have an unmistakable white rump, visible in flight. A characteristic unique to this hawk is a “circular facial disc,” similar to that of owls, which serves to funnel sounds to their ears and better hear the rustling of their prey as they scurry through vegetation.

Brewer's Sparrow
Brewer's Sparrow

Brewer's Sparrow
A small sparrow which can best be identified by all-over drab, gray coloring and complete white eye ring. A summer resident at Lava Beds, the Brewer’s Sparrow has adapted to life in a dry environment by conserving water through biological adaptations greatly reducing its loss of body fluids. During the summer months, this sparrow can subsist on a diet of seeds and insects with very little supplemental water. Another victim of habitat destruction and fragmentation, Brewer’s Sparrow census numbers have been decreasing steadily.

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl
Widespread across most of North America, this large owl is easily identified by cat-like ear tufts. Great Horned Owls are not particular about nesting sites, choosing other birds’ nests, buildings, trees or crevices in cliffs and are frequently visible rearing young at the Petroglyph unit of Lava Beds. They are efficient hunters, preying on both birds and mammals (even skunks!). The “hoo hoodoo hooo hoo” of the great horned is the most recognized of owl songs.







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Presido of Sanfransico

A leader among the legendary "Buffalo Soldiers", Charles Young (1864-1922) served in the segregated U-S Army of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Young was one of few black military officers. These African Americans served in an era when racism was rampant and many ... if not most ... white soldiers resented taking orders from black officers or non-commissioned officers.
Nevertheless, Young carried out a wide variety of assignments throughout the United States, Philippines, Haiti, Liberia, and Mexico over the course of his thirty-seven year military career.
In 1903, Captain Young served as a 9th Cavalry Company commander at the Presidio of San Francisco. His duties that year included leading an escort of troops for President Theodore Roosevelt and serving as Acting Superintendent of Sequoia National Park.

Charles Young was born to former slaves in 1864. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and, in 1889, became only the third African American cadet to graduate and be commissioned as an army officer.
There were four black regiments in the United States army at that time: the 24th Infantry, 25th Infantry, 9th Cavalry, and 10th Cavalry. During the nineteenth century, these so-called "Buffalo Soldiers" served mostly in the Plains region of the Western Frontier.
Second Lieutenant Young served first with the 25th Infantry at Fort Custer, Montana. Later, the army assigned him to the 9th Cavalry at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and Fort Duchesne, Utah.
After five years out west, Lieutenant Young was appointed Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Wilberforce University, an African American college in Ohio. Wilberforce President Samuel T. Mitchell described Young as "enthusiastic, energetic," and "eminently qualified for the position he occupies, teaching not only Military Science courses, but also French and mathematics."
During and after the Philippine War, Charles Young served as a Captain and company commander with the 9th Cavalry, and later as a Major in the 10th Cavalry during the Punitive Expedition into Mexico. At the end of his career, Young had risen to the rank of full Colonel, the highest rank held by an African American up to that time.
A talented musician, Charles Young also directed the college band and played and composed music for piano, violin, and guitar. Young's closest acquaintance on the faculty was Professor W.E.B. DuBois; the two became lifelong friends.
Within one year of the United States’ occupation of the Presidio in 1846, its crumbling buildings were repaired by the Army’s New York Volunteers. Upon the discovery of gold in California in 1849, the sudden growth of San Francisco in size and significance prompted the U.S. government to establish a permanent military reservation on the bay. By executive order of President Fillmore, the United States reserved the Presidio for military use in November 1850.

United States flag
United States flag
United States flag
During the 1850’s, the Army Corps of Engineers built Fort Point—a four-tiered brick and granite fort designed to hold 126 cannon—at the mouth of the bay. In 1861, the outbreak of the Civil War reemphasized the economic and military significance of California and, one year later, the first major expansion at the Presidio since its acquisition by the United States began. Following the Civil War, Presidio soldiers fought the Modoc Indians in the Lava Beds of northern California and the Apache Indians in the southwest during the Indian Wars of the 1870’s and 1880’s. Also in the 1880’s, a large-scale tree planting and post beautification program was initiated. By the 1890’s, the Presidio had evolved from a modest frontier outpost to a major military installation and a base for American expansion into the Pacific.
Beginning in the 1890’s, U.S. Cavalry stationed at the Presidio patrolled three newly-created National Parks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California—Sequoia, General Grant and Yosemite—before the creation of the National Park Service in 1916. During the 1898 Spanish-American War and the subsequent Philippine-American War, thousands of troops camped on the Presidio while awaiting deployment to the Philippines—including all four African-American "Buffalo Soldier" regiments. Upon their return to the United States, many sick and wounded soldiers were treated in the Army's first permanent general hospital, Presidio (later Letterman) Hospital.
By 1905, twelve reinforced-concrete artillery batteries were built along the San Francisco headlands to supplement bay defenses. Presidio coast artillery units were stationed at Fort Scott, while cavalry and infantry troops were garrisoned on the Main Post.

Presidio and East Cantonment around 1900
Presidio and East Cantonment around 1900


Golden Gate NRA Archives
Camps spread across the eastern part of the Presidio in the early 1900s as soldiers shipped to and from the Philippine Islands. Seen here is the East Cantonment with Presidio General Hospital in the background, around 1900.


Following the cataclysmic 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire, the U.S. Army provided food, clothing, shelter, and protection to the city of San Francisco from the Presidio. In 1914, troops under the command of legendary General John Pershing were dispatched from the Presidio to pursue Pancho Villa south of the Mexican border. During the expedition, Pershing's wife and three of his four children perished when the family home on the main post was consumed by fire. The Presidio further expanded in the 1920's, when Crissy Airfield was established along the bayfront. In 1924, the first "dawn to dusk" transcontinental flight landed at Crissy Field.
Following the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when many felt a mainland invasion of California was imminent, Presidio soldiers dug foxholes along nearby beaches. Soon after, Fourth Army Commander General John L. DeWitt-stationed at the Presidio-conducted the internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans while, simultaneously, U.S. soldiers of Japanese descent were trained to translate, interrogate and decode in Japanese at the first Military Intelligence Service language school at Crissy Field. As World War II progressed, the Presidio became headquarters of the Western Defense Command and the nearby Fort Mason Port of Embarkation shipped 1,750,000 American servicemen to fight in the Pacific theater. Meanwhile, Letterman Hospital became the largest debarkation hospital in the country-peaking at 73,000 patients in one year. During the 1950's, the Presidio was headquarters for the Nike missile defense system located around the Golden Gate as well as headquarters for the famed Sixth U.S. Army.