Unusual East Bay Animals
Go wild and discover some of the amazing creatures that walk, slither, or fly among us in the East Bay.
The East Bay teems with wildlife, but chances are you haven’t spotted many of the fascinating species that inhabit our region. Lindsay Wildlife Experience’s curator of animal encounters, Emma Molinare, suggests five unusual animals to look for in the area.
Fun facts: Although the Bay Area is better known for golden eagles, the bald eagle can be spotted in our region too. “You can potentially see them in larger groups during certain times of the year, which is unusual for [birds of prey],” says Molinare.
Where to look: Bald eagles typically nest near waterways (including Lake Chabot), but they’ve been witnessed flying around birding hot spots such as Fremont’s Central Park and Del Valle Regional Park near Livermore. Molinare recommends checking out ebird.org for recent sightings.
Fun facts: “These guys are unusual for a few reasons: The first is, similar to the bald eagle, they’ll actually hang out in groups,” Molinare explains. “They will go underground, which is very unusual, and they’re also awake during the daytime.”
Where to look: These creatures’ burrows can be found on the Bay’s east shore—especially in César Chávez Park in Berkeley, Oakland’s Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, and the Albany Bulb.
Fun facts: “This is the largest bat in California. These animals can have an almost two-foot wingspan, which is pretty incredible,” Molinare says. “They can weigh up to six times as much as the more common Mexican free-tailed bat. If you spot them, you might mistake them for a small bird flying at night because of how big they are.”
Where to look: They primarily live in caves and cliffside areas all over the East Bay. Although they stay in their covered roosts during the day, you can see them out hunting for insects at night.
California Red-sided Garter Snake
Fun facts: “This snake is endemic to California, and can be found up and down the coast and inland in the East Bay,” says Molinare. “They are excellent swimmers and will escape into water when threatened.”
Where to look: This vibrantly colored species prefers to live near streams, ponds, and marshlands. Keep your eyes to the ground in Sunol Regional Wilderness or Rancho San Ramon Community Park to spot it.
Fun facts: “Despite often being called a cat, these one- to two-pound animals are actually in the same family as raccoons,” Molinare notes. “[They] have a taste for meat. However, they’ll eat anything from fruit and nectar to insects, squirrels, snakes, birds, and eggs.”
Where to look: Because they are nocturnal, ringtails can be difficult to find. Head to the forests of the East Bay’s regional parks and preserves, and glance in tree hollows, abandoned burrows, and the spaces between rocks—their preferred sleeping spots.