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Science & Nature

Wildlife

The Eel River has salmon and steelhead trout. Despite the river’s name, it holds no eels. The river does host eel the look-alike Pacific lamprey, a jawless fish that spawns in the river each spring.

Black-tailed deer, gray foxes, black bears, mountain lions, and river otters roam through the park. Eagles, owls, and hawks soar overhead, hunting small game. Other bird sightings include osprey, great blue herons, belted kingfishers, acorn woodpeckers, and scrub and Steller’s jays.

These species lists of Standish-Hickey's most common birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians were prepared by Team Standish president Jeff Hedin.

Bird List
Wild turkeys, California quail, mountain quail, blue grouse, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, bald eagle, golden eagle, turkey vulture, sparrow hawk, osprey, barred owl, spotted owl, northern saw-whet owl, western screech owl, burrowing owl, belted kingfisher, red-breasted sapsucker, downy woodpecker, black phoebe, cliff swallow, common raven, western scrub jay, chestnut-backed chickadee, Bewick’s wren, house wren, winter wren, water ouzel, ruby-crowned kinglet, American robin, varied thrush, hermit thrush, fox sparrow, spotted towhee, dark-eyed junco, great blue heron, merganser, cormorant, Steller’s jay, Allen’s hummingbird, wrentit, bushtit, mallard, western tanager, pileated woodpecker, and northern flicker.
 
Mammal List
Gray squirrel, Douglas’s squirrel, Sonoma chipmunk, California ground squirrel, black-tailed deer, black-tailed jackrabbit, gray fox, northern raccoon, bobcat, coyote, northern river otter, American mink, striped skunk, dusky-footed wood rat, North American porcupine, big brown bat, California Myotis, black bear, and mountain lion.

Reptile List
Western fence lizard, alligator lizard, western pond turtle, ringneck snake, rubber boa, gopher snake, common king snake, common garter snake, western rattlesnake, and western skink.

Amphibian List

Yellow-legged frog, western chorus frog, Pacific giant salamander, California newt, Pacific tree frog, western toad, bullfrog, southern torrent salamander, and red-bellied newt.

Plants

In the forest, second-growth coast redwoods compete for sunlight with oaks, alder, bay laurel, madrone, Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple, buckeye, and yew. Shrubs include huckleberry, manzanita, and coyote bush. Flowers include Indian warrior, milk maid, crimson columbine, and redwood sorrel.

The tallest redwood, the Miles Standish Tree, at 225 feet tall and 13 feet in diameter, is easy to spot from a distance. Thought to be more than 1,200 years old, the tree's scars come from a widespread 1947 fire and the axe of a 1930s evangelist’s rumored efforts to chop down the largest tree around. 

Erosion

Heavy annual rainfall combined with years of excessive logging to cause severe erosion on the steep bluffs on the east bank of the river.

Climate Change

Scientists studying the effects of rising global temperatures have found that the size and longevity of redwoods helps them store more climate-altering carbon dioxide than other plants. Even old redwoods continue to grow, each year adding more carbon-filled wood than smaller, younger trees. After redwoods die, their rot-resistant wood holds on to that carbon for a long time.