The Gottlieb Native Garden

a california love story

The Gottlieb Native Garden is a flourishing ecosystem belonging to Susan and Dan Gottlieb, friends of flora and fauna and devoted environmental philanthropists. With more than 100 hand-selected plant species and hundreds of animal species, the backyard is a National Wildlife Federation-certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat and a Xerces Society-designated Pollinator Habitat.

Pacific Coast Tick

This Pacific Coast Tick is a three host tick which commonly feeds on rodents, especially squirrels as subadults, and on horses, deer, and humans as adults. This is one of the most widely distributed ticks in California and is found throughout most of the state.  So, for those of us who have deer or squirrels in the garden, a tick check might be a good idea after working or walking in tall grass.

Pacific Coast Tick - Dermacentor occidentalis

U.C. Davis Hummingbird Study

The U.C. Davis Hummingbird Crew (Lisa Tell and her team!) were in the yard once again, collecting data for an on-going study of California hummingbirds.  The GNG hummingbirds seemed to hold-up very nicely as they offered-up important information such as weight, measurements of beak, wings and tail and DNA for future analysis.  Once the data was complete on each bird, they were banded and released. So if you happen to notice a banded hummingbird in the LA area, please let us know. There is a good chance that it is a bird from this GNG study!

Adult male Alan's Hummingbird

How do you weigh a hummingbird?  On a tiny scale of course!  This adult male Anna's Hummingbird is being very cooperative during his weighing :-).  Click through to see a few more images from the day.

Allan's Hummingbird being released after getting banded.

Empidonax, or Empid Flycatchers – Sometimes a Real ID Challenge

When it comes to the Empidonax group of flycatchers found in Southern California, the Pacific-slope Flycatcher is the easiest to identify. Empids can be a real challenge because, for the most part, they are all small yellowish birds with with buffy wingbars. The main feature (besides its call) that set PacSlopes apart from their kin is the white eye-ring that extends back behind its eye, creating a teardrop shape.  These neotropical birds will continue to be seen and heard in the GNG until late summer when they depart for their wintering grounds in Southern Mexico.

Pacific-slope Flycatcher - Empidonax difficilis

Play the video below to see the really cool way Pacific-slope Flycatchers take their bath.  This bird is demonstrating some amazing skills! 

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawks

A couple of months ago, biologist Dan Cooper brought to our attention that a pair of Red-tailed Hawks had nested in the canyon below the GNG.  Well, they successfully fledged two chicks and now the two siblings are spending a lot of time in the garden.  For the most part, their day consists of practicing their hunting skills (the ground squirrels have been very nervous these days) and begging their parents for food.  Hopefully they will both survive and find territories that they each can call their own.

Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis

A sibling game of chase!

Contemplating the next meal...

July Nocturnal Species Review

Summer is a great time to explore the garden at night, and as usual, our latest nocturnal species review didn’t disappoint! Standouts were the abundant spiders and moths. Eight species of spiders were observed as they busily worked their night shift.  We are still working on identifying the dozens of moth species.

Scott - Homo sapiens and Jeweled Araneus - Araneus gemma


Coolest Moth of the Night

When at rest, borer moths hold their marbled forewings in such a way as to mimic a crumpled leaf while their body resembles a stick.

Erythrina borer - Terastia meticulosalis

Most Beautiful Moth of the Night

Elder Moth larvae love elderberry leaves. Birds love elderberry berries. A win win plant for attracting beautiful creatures into your yard.

Elder Moth - Zotheca tranquilla on Salvia

Non-native Glass Snail

This small introduced snail from Europe can be found in urban gardens and nurseries throughout Southern California. This individual was found in the GNG under a rotting log. It is an omnivore and feeds on a verity of things, including living plants, dead plants, fungi, other snails and slugs and their eggs.

Glass Snail - Oxychilus spp.

Cooling-off on a Hot, Humid Day

These goldfinches know that there is no better way to beat the Summer heat than to hang out in some cool running water!

Lesser Goldfinches - Spinus psaltria

Green Lynx Spider

This impressive spike-covered male Green Lynx Spider was very busy searching for a mate in the flowers by the hummingbird bath.  We never saw if he was successful, but we’re now looking for a female lynx spider in the GNG too :-).

Green Lynx Spider - Peucetia viridans

Botta's Pocket Gopher

How do pocket gophers end-up as meals for predators such as owls, hawks, coyotes and bobcats when they spend 90% of their life in the safety of their burrows? This slow motion video of a GNG pocket gopher captures what they do the other 10% of the time. Gophers feed on a variety of roots, tubers, and bulbs, but they will also venture above ground to collect plant shoots and grasses. 

Botta's Pocket Gopher - Thomomys bottae

The Beginning of a Hot Summer Day...

Summer has officially arrived when cicadas begin to sing, and they are now singing in the GNG!.  As the sun rises on this soon-to-be 100° day, cicadas were gearing-up to serenade with their soft buzzing song.

Cicadidae - Okanagana vanduzeei

National Geographic Films in the Garden!

Red Rock Films was in the GNG for a couple of days this week, filming hummingbirds for an up-coming National Geographic special on California.  Using regular and extremely high-speed video cameras, they were able to capture stunning footage of hummingbirds feeding and interacting in the garden.

Hummingbirds were the focus of the day, but a quick thinking cinematographer was able to capture this Hooded Oriole taking off from its perch.  Keep in mind that this slow motion clip represents about one second in human time – thank you for sharing the footage Owen!

Hooded Oriole