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LOS ANGELES, CA: In Search Of The Trickster

    Behind the Scenes:You'd think an episode filmed in sunny LA would be fun, huh? But thanks to El Nino, Los Angeles was having terrible weather, raining all the time. We'd start shooting and it would start raining. We'd dry the equipment off, get set up and then more rain would come!
Brown Pelican This week, I'm close to home on the sunny Southern California coast. I couldn't resist some surfing, which gave me a chance to get a close look at a brown pelican. These amazing birds have beaks that hold 2 to 3 times more than in their stomachs! With a six to seven-foot wing span, they are awesome in flight.
    Behind the Scenes: Surfing in LA isn't as much fun as you'd think. When I was looking for pelicans by the coast, I spent three hours on the surfboard and the water was cold. I started to feel pickled.

And what's the Feature Creature I hope to find here? Well, some Native American Indians in this area called him the "trickster," a cunning and skilled predator. But there's lots I want to see before we close in on our trickster.

I love tidepools, those little rocky indentations found by the shore. After surfing, I stopped at one and immediately found a decorator crab, an octopus, and even a starfish. Decorator Crab
You know, if a starfish loses one of its five arms, the arm will grow back and the lost arm will turn into a new star fish. Cool, huh?

Gulls love tidal pools. They eat virtually anything, but they love the crabs and sea urchins found in the pools. How do they open the crabs? They drop them onto the rocks to break their shells and expose the meat.

You know, gulls have adapted a way to drink sea water and secrete the excess out of special glands above their eyes. But the 10 million residents of Los Angeles need fresh drinking water, which is piped in all the way from Northern California and the Colorado River, hundreds of miles away.

    Behind the Scenes: Let me tell you about the seal that came by. Now, a seal isn't a bad companion, but sharks love to eat seals, so when one started playing by me I wondered, "What if a shark came, saw me in my wetsuit, and decided I'd make a better and bigger meal than the seal?"
Jeff in a Convertible Since I was in LA, I rented a cool convertible and headed up to the Santa Monica Mountains.
The canyons here were once home to grizzlies, but not any more. I did spot a gray fox, something that can be eaten by our trickster. I also found a Chumash Indian site and, nearby, a sign of mule deer, a creature once hunted by the Chumash.
I even saw a tiny California newt and watched it arch its back in the shape of a "U," signaling danger! Tiny California Newt
Then it was off to Beverly Hills. What kind of wildlife would I find there, you wonder, besides parties? Amazingly, the palm trees and garbage provide home and plenty of food for Ratus Ratus -- the tree rat. They love drinking at the swimming pools. Then it was time for me to close in on our Feature Creature.

I knew that the trickster loves being near water, so I headed to the Los Angeles River. I spotted a California king snake, which is immune to the venom of a rattler. A turkey vulture flew by. It has a featherless head because it sticks its head into dead animal carcasses.

The Coyote! Finally, right by the world famous Hollywood sign, I saw our Feature Creature -- the coyote! This "trickster" is a true scavenger. It will eat almost anything.
Coyotes live in packs. Trying to get rid of them by killing the dominant pair in the pack triggers a breeding response -- making more coyotes. So now there are more coyotes than ever before! What a great trip to Tinsel Town and the surrounding environment! But hey, I didn't meet one movie star!

Totally wild,
Jeff

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