Ask a Ranger

Ask a Ranger

There is bulletin board in the lobby of the Foothills Park Interpretive Center. On it are displayed a variety of items including photographs park visitors have taken. There is also a section reserved for people to “Ask a ranger” a question. We keep index cards and a pen handy so people can write down questions and pin them to the board. As questions are answered, the answers are posted on the board, as new questions are asked old ones are removed to make room. The old questions stay in an archive binder below the board.

When someone has come to the park and is curious about something, they can write a question down on one of the cards and when Ranger Richard Bicknell has a few minutes (okay, sometimes an hour or more) to answer the question, he will.  Most of the questions so far have been about Foothills Park and the things you may find there. Ranger Bicknell will answer any question that gets posted and has dealt with everything from banana slugs to fossils to uniforms and politics. 

Ranger Rich will be happy to answer questions about any of the Palo Alto Open Space areas. If you are curious about something in Open Space, please ask. You can contact Ranger Rich by e-mail at: richard.bicknell@cityofpaloalto.org

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2015
Which trails in Open Space are accessible?
Revision Date: 9/4/2008
Do you kill and stuff animals to put them on display?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Is there a trail [in Foothills Park] that has the Anna’s Hummingbird?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Revision Date: 6/25/2009
What is "Ask a ranger"?
Revision Date: 8/4/2008
Revision Date: 2/4/2008
Are banana slugs native to this [Foothills] park?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
A hundred feet or so inside the entrance to Los Trancos Trail in Wildhorse Valley, there is a large tall maple. Is that a big leaf maple?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
What is the biggest animal in the park?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
What’s the biggest fish in the lake and what type of fish are in the lake?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Why are the squirrels here black but in New Jersey they are gray?
Revision Date: 2/3/2009
Why are the squirrels here black but in New Jersey they are gray?
Revision Date: 11/11/2008
Have any bobcats or foxes been spotted recently? When do they have their babies?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
How many bobcats are in the park?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Revision Date: 6/8/2011
What time of the year does Foothill Park have the most butterflies?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Are you allowed to camp here?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Do Chamise flowers smell like vanilla?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Do you have a chicken farm and/or a petting zoo?
Revision Date: 8/13/2008
Why don't you clean your potty's more often? :-(
Revision Date: 2/23/2010
Revision Date: 2/15/2009
When does mom coyote bring her pups out? I have never seen a baby one here.
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
When are coyote pups born?
Revision Date: 2/3/2009
Revision Date: 11/2/2010
Did Dr. Lee donate land for the park? I remember him from the 1960's. Is that why the grove is so named?
Revision Date: 12/9/2009
Where do I look for Dirca shrubs?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Revision Date: 1/2/2011
Have any of the animals here ever been domesticated?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Where was Dr Lee's house located? Was it in the meadow? Was the meadow there 50 - 100 years ago or was it forested?
Revision Date: 12/30/2009
What is the name of the black duck with white beaks in the lake?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Which flowers displayed near the fireplace are edible?
Revision Date: 2/9/2010
Are there any endangered animals here?
Revision Date: 7/8/2008
Please make your FANTASTIC wildflower display available to us – either: to take on hikes 1. digital photos on website (we’ll take it from there) 2. or in a book (we’ll pay a lot?)
Revision Date: 6/10/2010
Suggestion: Why don’t you give out field guides that tell you what plants are on what specific trails? It’d spark my interest.
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
What type of fish are in the park?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Why do flies and mosquitoes buzz?
Revision Date: 9/22/2009
Are there fossils in the park? If so, what type?
Revision Date: 8/4/2008
Revision Date: 11/2/2010
Do you have any extra "real" gophers that are dead (taxidermied) so we could take one home to look at and we wouldn’t have to feed it?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Revision Date: 4/9/2009
How big is a full grown raccoon?
Revision Date: 6/17/2008
How long do deer live?
Revision Date: 7/17/2008
Revision Date: 6/8/2011
Are humans affecting the wildlife ecosystems here? If so, how and why?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Where can you hunt?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
What is the largest butterfly in Foothills Park?
Revision Date: 1/24/2010
Great park! Great clubhouse/info center. Why not replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescents?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Revision Date: 11/2/2010
What types of lizards can you find on the walk?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Revision Date: 1/2/2011
What’s the loudest noise a squirrel has ever made?
Revision Date: 11/11/2008
Revision Date: 4/13/2009
Do you find the animals in the case shaped they way they are? Where do you find the animals? Where is the male ruddy duck?
Revision Date: 2/26/2008
How come there isn’t a mountain lion statue up there? [On display in the Foothills Park Interpretive Center]
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Where is the most common place that people have seen mountain lions?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Is Mule Fat (B. douglasi) found in the park? Is that what I see in the drier areas that looks a little like small Toyon bushes?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
How come at day time we never see any of the animals. Are most of them nocturnal?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Revision Date: 2/15/2009
How about building a trail from Panorama Trail to the [Foothills] park entrance? It is a short distance that would nicely close the loop.
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Are the park rangers full time employees? How do I go about getting a job as a park ranger?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Revision Date: 1/2/2011
How does one become a park ranger or work for the Deaprtment of Forestry?
Revision Date: 8/26/2009
Where do you find rattlesnakes in the park during rattlesnake season?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
When do red foxes have their offspring and do they have big liters?
Revision Date: 12/9/2009
Do you have any red-winged blackbirds and/or orioles here?
Revision Date: 7/17/2008
How old are the redwood trees in the Lee Grove?
Revision Date: 10/22/2009
Are only Palo Alto residents allowed in the park?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
What happened to the scale model of the park? Where is the scale model of the park?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
When I was here as a boy, 60 years ago, there were more birds. Why are there so few birds now?
Revision Date: 1/12/2010
Do squirrels communicate through making sounds with their claws on the trees?
Revision Date: 9/4/2008
Revision Date: 11/2/2010
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever found in the park? Have any famous people ever come to the park?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Are there tarantulas here? I think I saw part of a dead one. How do they mate?
Revision Date: 11/27/2009
What is the best way to spot tarantulas and how late in the fall can they be spotted?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
Revision Date: 1/30/2008
How long have turkeys been in the park?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007
What are the different types of animals in Foothills Park?
Revision Date: 2/3/2009
What is the best time to view hawks and where in the park?
Revision Date: 1/9/2008
Where are the animals in the morning?
Revision Date: 6/10/2010
Revision Date: 4/13/2009
Why is it called Los Trancos?
Revision Date: 1/12/2010
Revision Date: 6/25/2009
If I found a baby squirrel in our backyard (possibly fallen from the tree) what can I do to help them? Where can I take them to? Can I bring them here?
Revision Date: 12/7/2007