The natural beauty of Southern California is one of the reasons people love living here.
The proximity of the houses to this wild landscape also puts people and their cameras in close contact with an array of wildlife. Below we’ve rounded up some of the most memorable and unusual animal encounters of 2021.
April 2021: 1,000 birds cavort in the chimney
Birds of a feather flock to one another, but one flock went too far and ended up needing the help of firefighters and animal services in southern California. About 1,000 small birds flew into a chimney of a Montecito house and remained trapped. When the birds did not fly out again, fire fighters and animal services designed an ingenious system of slides that hurled the birds out of the chimney and through the back doors of the house.
May 2021: Giant California condors are rare except in this woman’s home
One of the strangest animal encounters of 2021 took place over several days in a house in the Tehachapi Mountains about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. In an eerie sight resembling scenes from a Hitchcock classic, around 15 to 20 of the critically endangered birds showed up and made their homes on the first weekend of May. Seana Quintero, the homeowner’s daughter, reported on the unruly visitors in a series of Twitter posts that showed why the birds are unlikely to be invited back.
Approximately 15 to 20 rare California condors have taken over a SoCal woman’s home. Video broadcast on Today in LA on May 7, 2021.
May 2021: SoCal Beachgoer meets bizarre-looking fish
You never forget a face like that. A man came across the rare find identified as a deep-sea soccer fish while on his morning stroll on Newport Beach. The bizarre-looking creature is a species of anglerfish more commonly found at ocean depths greater than 3,000 feet below the surface.
A rarely seen fish that washes ashore in Newport Beach. Video broadcast on Monday, May 10, 2021 on Today in LA.
May 2021: Three bobcat kittens found in an oak tree
These tiny bobcat kittens are also candidates for the Cutest Animal Encounter of 2021 and were found in an unusual location. The three blue-eyed kittens were discovered in the den of a large oak tree in an area that was burned more than two years ago during the Woolsey Fire in Calabasas. It is believed that the bobcat used the tree as a den as most of the surrounding habitat was destroyed by fire.
National Park Service
Bobcat kittens were found in an oak trunk in an area burned by the Woolsey fire in Calabasas.
June 2021: Dog mom pushes Mama Bear from the backyard wall
A backyard security camera captured an unforgettable, breathtaking encounter between a bear family and a woman in a San Gabriel Valley. The stunning video shows the bear and two cubs walking on a wall of logs behind the Bradbury house. The four barking dogs in the family soon attack the bears and chaos ensues.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a bear and he’s taking my dog. It lifts it off the ground, ‘”said Hailey Morinico. “In that split second, I decided to push the bear like it didn’t seem like anything.”
Surveillance footage shows a Southern California teenager pushing a bear off a low wall behind her home on Memorial Day weekend to protect her four dogs.
August 2021: Bear migrates to Porter Ranch Ralphs
Honey was likely on this bear’s shopping list when he happened upon a grocery store on Porter Ranch. The 125 pound bear was eventually calmed and returned to the wild.
October 2021: Chico the Chihuahua survived a daylight coyote attack
A portable air horn saved a Chatsworth family when a coyote put their Chihuahua in its mouth and jumped over a brick wall with its prey. Startled by the sound, the coyote Chico dropped the Chihuahua and ran away.
Today Chico, the Chihuahua, lives safe and sound. And that’s pretty remarkable considering what happened to him. Gordon Tokumatsu will report for NBC4 News on Wednesday, October 6th, 2021.
July 2021: Adorable bear cub and mom splash around in the garden pool
A backyard pool was the perfect place for a mom bear and her playful cub to get away from the Southern California summer heat. In the video from the bear family’s pool day, the puppy paddled around the pool while mom seemed content to relax in the cool water of the house on the northern edge of Glendale.
A bear cub and his mother splash around in a Glendale pool. Photo credit: Paul Hubler
November 2021: Mountain Lion stares at hikers on the Orange County Trail
This was one of the most intense animal encounters of 2021. A two-minute video shows what happened when two hikers faced a fearsome looking mountain lion on an Orange County trail.
Mark Girardeau told NBCLA that he frequently checks trail and wildlife cameras in multiple locations but has only seen two mountain lions before – both from a much greater distance. The close encounter was a first.
“This is the home of the mountain lion, we are simply visitors to it,” added Girardeau in his Instagram post.
Two hikers encounter a mountain lion on a hiking trail in Orange County on Friday, November 8, 2021. Photo credit: Mark Girardeau