Yuba Field Guide Watershed Species to Know

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Yuba Field Guide

A look at our watershed’s sensitive and invasive animal species


Foothill Yellow Legged Frog (Rana boylii) Sensitive Native

Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog

Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog2


  • Rough Skin, with olive coloring
  • Pale yellow triangle extending from tip of nose to between eyes
  • No eardrum (circle) behind eye
  • Yellow coloring on legs, abdomen
  • Do not make clear audible noises


  • Found in close association with water, but can utilize a variety of aquatic habitats including pools, riffles, runs, cascade pools, and step pools
  • Prefer areas with exposed basking sites
    Tips for a confirmed sighting:
  • Picture


Don’t confuse with….
Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) which has:

  • Bright green mouth/throat, smooth shiny skin, large eyes relative to head and large eardrum behind eye, white belly, legs, and abdomen
  • Non-Native

Western Toad (Bufo boreas) which has:

  • Warty skin and thin white stripe behind center of back
  • Native

Pacific Treefrog (Hyla regilla) which has:

  • Distinct black eye strip, smaller legs, non-webbed

Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata) Sensitive Native

Western Pond Turtle

  • Only native freshwater turtle in California
  • Contains radiating lines from center of shell plates
  • No red stripe on face


  • Use both land and aquatic habitat
  • Needs hiding and basking sites, nesting habitat, permanent slow-moving water with deep and shallow areas

Tips for a confirmed sighting:

  • Picture; shell


Don’t confuse with….

Red Neck SliderRed-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta) which has:

  • Red on neck
  • Non-native





California Horned Lizard (Phrynnosoma coronatum frontale) Sensitive Native

California Horned Lizard California Horned Lizard2Description

  • Flattened body with backwardly
    projecting head spines
  • Large shelf above each eye with a
    spine-like scale, small scales on
    forehead, and two parallel rows of
    pointed scales on each side of its body
  • Variable coloration, but usually gray,
    tan, reddish-brown or whitish


  • They can be found in various habitat
    types, including riparian habitats,
    grasslands, and oak woodlands
  • Endemic to California

Tips for a confirmed sighting:

  • Picture

Western Ridged Mussel (Gonidea angulata) Sensitive Native

Western Ridge Mussel

  • Shell is yellowish-brown to black or
    brown and up to 5” in size
  • Shell does not have rays or sculpturing
  • Shell has angular ridge that runs along
    the posterior margin, while the
    anterior margin is generally straight


  • Bottoms of streams and rivers with
    substrates that vary from gravel to
    firm mud, and some sand, silt or clay
  • Rarely seen in reservoirs or lakes

Tips for a confirmed sighting:

  • Picture;
  • Shell


Don’t confuse with….

California Floater (Anodonta californiensis) which has:

  • Shell is elliptical or ovate; olive
    green, pale brown, reddish brown or
  • Has greenish rays on posterior slope;
    outside of shell is smooth with
    growth lines
  • Native

River Otter (Lontra canadensis) Sensitive Native

River Otter


  • Streamlined body adapted for aquatic life
  • Short limbs with webbed, clawed paws and a broad muzzle
  • Thick body with thick tapering tail
  • Outer fur is brown to velvety black, underside paler grayish-brown to silver
  • About the size of a medium dog; length of head and body about 26-30 inches


  • Must live near permanent water, but can live in a variety of aquatic habitats
  • Generally live along river banks in holes

Tips for a confirmed sighting:

  • Picture

Don’t confuse with….

Mink (Mustela vison)

  • Slightly smaller than a domestic cat; length of head and body about 12-17 inches
  • Medium to dark brown with a white chin patch
  • Native

Beaver (Castor canadensis)

  • Built in a shorter and stockier manner
  • Elongated tail, flattened tail
  • Native


Beaver (Castor canadensis) Sensitive Native


  • Largest rodents in North America
  • Waterproof reddish brown or blackish brown coat
  • Hind legs are longer than front legs, flattened tail
  • Disproportionately large head and teeth; length of head and body about 25-30 inches


  • Often found in ponds and lakes
  • Needs hiding and basking sites, nesting habitat, permanent slow-moving water with deep and shallow areas
  • Live in lodges that they construct

Tips for a confirmed sighting:

  • Picture of beaver or lodge


Don’t confuse with….

River Otter (Lontra Canadensis)

  • Longer, thinner body
  • Tail also long but tapered not flattened
  • Native

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

  • Thin, scaly tail, flattened on sides
  • Length of head and body about 10-14 inches

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Sensitive Native


  • Large raptor with white breast and belly
  • Black back and wings; crown and forehead white; dark eyestripe
  • Long wings with wingtips angled slightly backwards.
  • Larger than a hawk, smaller than a bald eagle


  • Lives near water bodies as they eat almost exclusively fish

Tips for confirmed sighting:

  • Picture


Don’t confuse with….

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalu

  • White head and tail feathers, no eyestripe
  • Native, CA Endangered Species

Red Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

  • Red tail, but juveniles and some adults can be light in color
  • Native


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