Portuguese Bend

December 22, 2022

The Portuguese Bend region is the largest area of natural vegetation remaining on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, in Los Angeles County, California. Though once slated for development (and in fact the projected route of Crenshaw Boulevard through the area still shows on many maps), the area is geologically unstable and is unsuitable for building. The geographical location and geological history of the peninsula make the remaining habitat extremely valuable for ecological and other scientific reasons. The peninsula, which was an island with the Palos Verdes Hills in recent geological time, has close floral and faunal similarities to the Channel Islands. This feature makes the Portuguese Bend Landslide area a natural research laboratory for the study of island biogeography and evolutionary ecology. The vegetation found in the area is coastal sage scrub. This plant community supports a surprising number and variety of species. There are at least three races of birds resident on the peninsula that are found nowhere else except the Channel Islands. These are the insular forms of the orange-crowned warbler, Pacific-slope flycatcher, and Allen’s hummingbird. The same phenomena has been documented for plant species. A species of live-forever, Dudleya virens, which is endemic to the Channel Islands and the Palos Verdes Peninsula, is found near Point Vicente Lighthouse, which was built in 1926. The area also serves as habitat to many migrating birds moving through the region in fall and spring. The Peninsula is a headland that juts into the Pacific Ocean several miles further than the surrounding coastline. Migrating terrestrial and shore birds, flying over the open ocean on their north-south migration along the Pacific Flyway, spot this headland and stop to rest and feed. Many of these birds will stay and spend the winter in the area. Thus, the geographic position makes this habitat much more important than might otherwise be expected. In general, the area has been lightly disturbed, and much natural vegetation remains. Intense disturbances, in the form of heavy off-road vehicle and pedestrian use, have been limited. Grazing also took place at one time. Source(s): Survey/Interview, Literature, ERC/UCLA, CNACC/CNPS.

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