The Howler presents: the official Northwood field guide
Deep in the idyllic suburbs of Irvine, one wouldn’t expect there to be much nature to appreciate besides the meticulously mowed lawns and shrubbery trimmed to homeowner’s association standards. It’s not hard to overlook the fact that past the concrete and stucco, our community is actually home to an abundance of wildlife.
American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
Found perching on the roofs of buildings and the blue lunch tables, the crows of Northwood are as much a part of campus as lost freshmen. It doesn’t take much to encounter death’s harbinger here, but what makes Irvine’s breed of crows particularly unique is their total ease in the presence of humans. Irvine is home to the second largest concentration of crows in Orange County due to our environment’s abundance of food and water. The lack of predators, coupled with the crow’s natural ability to adapt to urban environments, make Irvine the perfect home.
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Baseball and softball players haven’t been the only ones occupying the upper fields as of late—cattle egrets have recently been visiting Northwood in the early mornings and on cooler, overcast afternoons. These graceful white birds gather on the dewy grass and feed on a wide range of insects. In their native environments, cattle egrets often travel on the backs of grazing animals, hence their name.
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Soaring high above the avocado hills, red-tailed hawks dominate the suburban skyline of Irvine. They are one of the most prolific species in North America, and thrive in urban conditions due to their adaptability and dominance in the food chain. Northwood is filled with perfect places to perch, and provides vantage points for the high-flying hunters.
Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Flitting around the lunch tables near the SAC, the male version of these blackbirds can be identified by the distinctive red and yellow markings on their wings, while the females are a mottled brown. The species is found all over North America and subsist on an omnivorous diet. They often swoop in after lunch to pick on the crumbs left by students.
Oak tree (Quercus agrifolia)
The beloved second mascot of Northwood, our “majestic oak,” was originally transported to the school from Pasadena. Its common name is California live oak or coast live oak. It has become an identifying feature of our campus throughout our history, and students can look forward to its presence for many years to come, as this species may live up to 250 years old.
Heuchera ‘Lillian’s Pink’ Coral Bells (Pink flower that looks like bell)
Blooming between the 900s and 1400s buildings are clusters of the delicately-stemmed Lillian’s Pink coral bells. Actually a hybrid species of Heuchera, these small, shell-shaped flowers flourish in the cool shade and moderate sunlight of our school’s sheltered interior area, and attract the attention of both hummingbirds and students alike.
Avocado tree (Persea americana)
Northwood’s campus is surrounded by avocado groves, some of which have been removed in recent years to make room for housing developments. Grown by the Irvine Company, about 10 million pounds of the fruit, a staple of any Southern Californian’s diet, are harvested in Irvine annually.
Lantana camara (Flower bunches near music room (yellow, red, light purple))
The colorful clustered Lantana flowers that fill the planters by the theater not only increase the biodiversity of our school by themselves, but also attract other insects and animals. These tiny, trumpet-shaped flowers host hummingbirds and grass skippers, as well as bees and butterflies. As one would expect with their vibrant colors, Lantana flowers flourish in bright sunlight and are tolerant of a wide range of climates.
Island bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii)
These blooming wildflowers populate bushes around campus with their yellow hue. Native to islands off the coast of California, these blossoms can be found (insert location in campus). Their cheery colors brighten up any dreary school day of students passing between classes.
Blue potato bush (Lycianthes rantonnetii)
The vibrant violet color of the potato flower welcomes anyone approaching the music and visual arts rooms. Their appearance isn’t everything however, and despite the appetizing name and close relation to potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants, these flowers are poisonous and absolutely cannot be eaten. They lend themselves more to a feast for the eyes than actual consumption.