Wild LA

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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.

Unless you go to school, or have kids who do, Labor Day isn't the marker of time here that it is in less summery places.

I don't usually put away my summer mentality until Daylight Saving Time ends. This year the tragic turn of the calendar isn't until November 6. So we should have many long hot afternoons still ahead.

There IS one seasonal change I do kind of hope kicks in this week – and it's about the crows.

This summer a flock of the sky thugs has chosen my block in Mar Vista for their evening debate. About an hour of shouting and aerial duels above the trees, followed by more loud chatter.

Then, on some cue I can never detect, fifty birds rise up and migrate in loose packs toward the west. Into the sunset, I like to think.

It's a different tone than the angry chaos that erupts when the crows swoop in on a hawk or an owl. The evening ritual seems less threatened, more internal to the family.

And mostly I admire the spectacle. I feel a little bit happy whenever I get to see into LA's secret society of wild animals.

Walking home from a friend's house a few weeks ago I came upon a very well fed raccoon standing in the street. We both stopped, looked at each other.

His (or her) mask was beautifully drawn. He looked healthy, and I wondered: where does he live? There are no wild hills right around there.

After observing me for a minute or so, he waddled over to a storm drain opening and vanished into the dark. There was my answer.

The menagerie that inhabits LA with us has to make do with the habitat it finds.

My neighborhood of yards and storm drains supports several families of possums, and plenty of hummingbirds and doves. A mockingbird now and then.

We also see our share of rat silhouettes, commuting on the phone wires at night.

Other parts of town where I've lived are populated with lizards, deer and coyotes. At UCLA, the grounds are overrun with squirrels.

They're the greenish squirrels reportedly introduced to the area by veterans from the south who lived at the Sawtelle soldier's home early in the 1900s.

They're brasher and more aggressive than LA's native squirrels were, and they took over. Now they're the natives.

The indigenous wildlife has been changing ever since people began filling in the New World. Grizzly bears used to fish trout out of the LA River.

Last week brought a reminder that the transition isn't always pretty.

Morning commuters on the 405 spotted a mountain lion carcass on the freeway.

P-18, as the scientists knew him, was 15 months old and had left his mother's range in the Malibu Creek area earlier this summer.

He padded west through the mountains looking for turf he could call his own. Possibly a mate.

Tuesday about 4 am he tried to cross the 405. The driver who hit him apparently never stopped.

On second thought, I think I'm OK with the crows using my street as a perch. All summer.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.