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Wildlife is Different in Malibu

Recently I was driving on the PCH and saw a sign which read something to the effect, “Rattlesnake vaccine available here.” Those words are not music to my ears.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Malibu doesn’t remind me of New Jersey one little bit. Everything is different here, even the wildlife. For one thing, what should be the New Jersey State bird doesn’t particularly care for Malibu. Of course, I am referring to the New Jersey mosquito which grows so big with human blood it might as well be a bird.     

Back in the old country on a hot humid night after a down pour, they suck you so dry you sometimes need a transfusion. And their buzzing noise will drive you bunkers.       

Here at my home in Malibu the cool nights and mild breezes keep the critters at bay. I can use two hands for barbecuing because I don’t need one to swat the little buggers. The absence of these blood suckers makes Malibu a great place to live.        

Turkeys also prefer New Jersey to the good life of Malibu, but nobody ever said turkeys were the smartest birds on the planet. Every autumn not long before Thanksgiving a dozen or so wild turkeys would descend upon my home only five minutes from the George Washington Bridge.       

Turkeys are about as attractive as vultures if you get my drift. And if they are not the dumbest creatures on earth, they surely make the top 10 list. Once I saw a mother turkey deliberate for almost fifteen minutes on how she could get over a four foot fence separating her from her baby. This same bird had no trouble every sunset flying 30 feet or more onto a tree to spend the night but a four foot fence presented a dilemma for her bird brain.     

You might find this hard to believe, but turkeys have even stopped me from getting my mail. One day my former mail carrier Curtis who is well over 6 feet tall saw a tom turkey between his mail truck and my mail box. Rain and sleet did not deter this postman, but that turkey sure did.      

The closest I’ve come to a turkey in Malibu is in the freezer at Pavilion’s and that suits me just fine.     

On the other side of the ledger, we have some creatures here which are rarely if ever seen in New Jersey. Once I rented a house in Malibu and was leaving the hot tub when I noticed a tarantula nearby. We looked at each other and the spider quickly went one way and I the other. I saw no reason to get better acquainted.      

We rarely see a coyote back East, but here they seem to be a common occurrence. At night I frequently hear them howling like a pack of wolves. A friend of mine says they especially like to howl after catching a rabbit which means to me the rabbits haven’t been doing very well lately.      

Recently I was driving on the PCH and saw a sign which read something to the effect, “Rattlesnake vaccine available here.” Those words are not music to my ears. I read that only five people were killed last year in the entire United States from rattlesnake bites, but I have no desire to be No. 6.     

I was walking the other day in when a hiker advised me to beware of a rattlesnake further down the path. I can assure you I followed his advice. I stood so far back from where the big rattlesnake lay that I almost needed the Hubble telescope to see it.     

I understand there are many people who adore snakes. I do not count myself among this group. Serpents justifiably have a bad reputation. If it weren’t for a serpent, we would all be walking around naked and because of serpents I have to get dressed every day. I rest my case.

Chuck Almdale August 28, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Burt: Speaking of "Burt's Eye View," why don't your join us sometime on our monthly birdwalks at Malibu lagoon. (How's that for a smooth segue?) I guarantee no mosquitoes, snakes, tarantulas or turkeys; at least, I've never seen any there in the past 35 years. On the other hand, I have seen coyotes and deer, in addition to the birds. The channels area is a mess right now, but the usual suspects (birds) are still on the beach and main lagoon as always. September through April we get between 50 - 75 species. 4th Sunday of the month, 8:30am, meeting somewhere around the lagoon parking lot (west side of the lagoon). Look for people with binoculars and telescopes. Next trip is Sept 23. yours, Chuck Almdale Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society Field Trip Chair
Max August 29, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Some snakes can be quite crafty. Many years ago, as I opened my sliding glass door one morning, I saw what appeared to be a long grayish extension cord with yellow (I thought) safety strips along its length. I thought, “It’s one thing for my neighbor to borrow my garden hose, but, to “borrow” my kilo-Watt hours is going a bit too far.” So, I set out to follow the electrons to my neighbor’s power tool or whatever he was powering. To my amazement, the end of this particular extension cord had a forked tongue wiggling at me. From then on, my neighbor had 24/7 permission to use water and electricity but, please, leave any gray extension cords where they lay.
steve dunn August 29, 2012 at 03:59 AM
I travel pass the lagoon 2 to 4 times a day. Not very many birds, however, if anyone wants to see them, you can come to our house. There are tons of them on our roof and around the beach and shoreline.

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