wildlife

Yosemite Wildlife

wildlife

In addition to its breathtaking scenery, Yosemite’s wildlife is both diverse and fascinating. Some formerly endangered species like the peregrine falcon, golden eagle and bighorn sheep can now be found in Yosemite. With a keen eye, you may be lucky enough to spot some of these beautiful animals during your visit.

Mammals
  • Black Bears – This incredibly intelligent animal is called “black bear” but can also be brown, blonde, cinnamon, or even white.  Please visit our “Bear Awareness” page for more information on these unique Yosemite animals - and how we can all help protect them.
  • Mule Deer – One of the easiest animals to find in Yosemite, these deer are also called “Black-Tailed Deer”.  They can be found in places throughout the park, but generally near open meadows.
  • Coyotes – Nothing beats hearing the yapping of a coyote among the walls of Yosemite Valley.  The coyotes in Yosemite are commonly mistaken for wolves, but ecologically-speaking wolves have never been part of Yosemite’s wildlife.
  • California Ground Squirrel – The most prolific summertime squirrel, their scruffy grey/white mottled fur distinguishes them from their cousins.  They hibernate in the winter.
  • Western Grey Squirrel – The most commonly spotted squirrel in the winter.  Grey Squirrels easily have the bushiest tails in Yosemite.
  • Mountain Lions – These magnificent creatures are rarely seen by humans because they are very secretive.  They offer an important role in controlling deer, raccoon, and squirrel populations.
  • Marmots – With a talent for sunbathing, these large golden brown members of the rodent family are spotted usually from Olmstead Point to Tuolumne Meadows and up to the top of the highest mountain peaks in Yosemite.

Birds

  • Stellar’s Jay – Possessing a black crest, blue feather coat, and a very noisy voice, the Stellar’s Jay is known as a “thief”.  It loves to hang around picnic areas and steal food when no one is looking.
  • Raven – Arguably the most intelligent animal in Yosemite, this very large black bird can usually be seen in pairs.
  • Dark-Eyed Junco – A small sparrow looking bird can be quickly spotted by its black-capped head and two white tail feathers as it flies away.
  • Red-Tail Hawk – The most common bird-of-prey in Yosemite, it ranges from Yosemite Valley all the way to Tuolumne Meadows – naturally distinguished by it red-feather tail.
  • Peregrine Falcon – The fastest bird-of prey in the world, capable of diving at speeds of 200 mph.  Previously endangered, the Peregrine has made a remarkable recovery in Yosemite with several nesting pairs that make the cliffs of Yosemite Valley their home.
  • Great-Grey Owl – One of the largest owls in Yosemite, they prefer the oak woodlands of Yosemite Valley.

Other Yosemite Animals

  • Rattlesnake – One of the most common snakes the park.  As with all Yosemite wildlife, be sure to give them plenty of space if discovered.  The snake is poisonous – look for the rattle at the tail.
  • Rainbow Trout – One of the few fish species in Yosemite, it is found (and fished for) most commonly in Yosemite Valley.  Distinguished by its multiple colors of scales and a large pink band across its body.
  • Mosquito – Viewed as a pest by many, the wide-ranging bug is found all over Yosemite.  During “mosquito season” there can be millions throughout the park.  Mosquito season generally lasts from March-July, depending on precipitation levels.  The bug actually serves a very important purpose of providing food to much of Yosemite’s wildlife.