Sunday, March 7, 2021

Soft whispering of quail a sign property has come a long way

A male quail being a lookout. (ERNIE COWAN)


I could hear the whispers and it sounded juicy.

If only I understood quail.

It was an intimate moment with nature like I had never experienced before.

Sitting motionless at the edge of the flowerbed I was listening in to the whispered conversations of feeding quail just a few feet away.

The murmurings were hushed, almost inaudible.

I’ve written before about the “muttering army” of quail that pass my bedroom window at dawn as they emerge from native cover and march to a nearby seed feeder. Their not-so-subtle cooing then is an almost daily alarm clock.

This was the same sound, but I could almost not hear it. Had there been a wind or other noise the sounds would have vanished. The feeding quail were obviously close to each other with no need to be speaking loudly.

This became an impromptu sit-and-see moment.

I was out enjoying the morning sun and had pulled up a chair to watch a spotted towhee as he bounced around in a nearby tree while singing his characteristic three sharp notes and a trill.

That’s when I noticed movement in the low thicket of blooming marguerites and then heard the soft sounds of the quail not more than 10 feet from me.

Suddenly a feathered head popped up and there was more rustling movement followed by glimpses of quail skittering through the shrubbery.

Quail have a strong social bond, and apparently this was a covey softly chatting with each other as they looked for seeds that had fallen from a feeder hanging above.

I sat very still for fear of spooking them and enjoyed the muted bird whispers and occasional peek as heads would pop up above the plants.

Perhaps sensing my presence or just being typically protective, one male jumped up on a nearby rock to act as a lookout. I sat very still so he would not sound an alarm to warn his companions.

Soon the covey moved on, and the quail whispers faded with them.

They will be back because they spend a better part of most days enjoying my seed feeders, poking around in the flower gardens or drinking from the small clay saucer I keep always filled with water with a drip irrigation line.

It wasn’t always this way.

When we came to Mt. Whoville about 16 years ago, it was a bare, graded lot where we would build our home. It’s a narrow, hogback ridge, about a mile long and 200 feet wide, sloping off into native vegetation.

Our goal was to create a wildlife “country club,” where the native critters could come to enjoy dependable sources of food, water, shelter and nesting sites.

We started with nectar and seed feeders that attracted hummingbirds and the regulars like house finches, scrub jays, dove and towhees.

Rabbits quickly adopted us. They loved our tender new plants until we shifted to native shrubs and things they didn’t like.

I knew quail were in the surrounding chaparral thickets but could never seem to get them to come out to feed.

That changed as the landscaping matured.

Quail are ground feeders, and they are also prey to marauding Cooper’s hawks. They need places to hide if a hawk shows up looking for a meal.

As our gardens and shrubs matured, I placed feeders and water near cover, and that’s when quail felt comfortable enough to share our ridgetop.

The quail and I have become pretty good friends. They still don’t talk to me, but they no longer explode in panic when I walk out of the house.

Now, they just stop and watch to see what I am going to do. If I walk too close, they will quietly move away.

These plump little birds are daily visitors now, starting with my morning wake-up call and I’ve even caught them on my game camera just after dark as they drink at the opossum pond.

They are comfortable enough to bring their tiny, incredibly cute new chicks in to drink several times a day in early summer. I am looking forward to the next crop of youngsters that resemble striped, fuzzy walnuts with skinny legs.

I talk to my quail.

If they are in the yard when I walk outside, I explain softly that I’m just going to the car to get something or put out the trash and “not to worry.”

I listen as they talk, but so far, I can’t figure out what they are saying. About the only thing I get is something about “Chi-ca-go.”

It’s probably just as well.

I’m sure they’re talking about me.

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Column: Got some sugar, water, oranges or grape jelly lying around?

Residents are encouraged to share their images and videos of orioles on social media.
Residents are encouraged to share their images and videos of oriole visitors on social media using the hashtags #birdfromhome #weloveorioles and #sdorioles.
(Ernie Cowan)

Ernie Cowan’s Outdoors column

The kids are coming home and I’m excited.

OK, they’re not really my kids, but I feed them and provide a place for them to stay, so they might as well be.

In the next few days, the brightly colored hooded oriole males will begin straggling into San Diego County from their winter homes in Mexico.

They have made a long, challenging journey and will welcome the energy provided by orange slices, grape jelly or nectar feeders filled with fresh sugar water.

By mid-March, local gardens will be buzzing with both males and females as they delight birders with their comical antics, bickering and nest building activities.

Over the summer they will construct delicately woven pouch nests, lay eggs and raise a crop of youngsters. By late summer the fledglings will add crowds to feeders as they fatten up in preparation for their first migration to Mexico.

Hooded orioles welcome the energy provided by orange slices, grape jelly or nectar feeders filled with fresh sugar water.
(Ernie Cowan)

By mid-September the orioles will be gone.

This seasonal display is much anticipated by local bird lovers, and researcher Yara Fisher wants to encourage others to put out the welcome mat for them.

Fisher, a San Diego resident, is pursuing an online master’s degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in the Advanced Inquiry Program that includes experiential learning through San Diego Zoo Global.

Her love of orioles in particular has prompted her to reach out to engage the wider public to attract, feed and care for these beautiful birds.

To help spread the word and track participation, Fisher wants to encourage people to share their images and videos of their feeding stations, bird baths and oriole visitors on social media using the hashtags #birdfromhome #weloveorioles and #sdorioles.

“We are challenged to make a difference in our communities through community engagement in conservation. This year, I am trying to raise awareness of the oriole migration in San Diego and provide easy tips for people to become involved in attracting and providing sustenance to these beauties,” she said.

Wild birds in general and orioles in particular are an easy way to get people to connect with nature.

“I think the oriole may be a nice gateway bird to feed and watch given its unique and stunning presence here,” Fisher said.

It’s a labor of love for Fisher who is a third-generation bird lover, having learned from her grandfather.

Fisher sees wild birds as an easy way for people to connect with nature, even in their own private spaces.

“Attracting and feeding wild birds can increase the welfare of the birds as well as contribute to our mental health,” she said.

She hopes to encourage people to change their behavior and to understand they can become involved with wild birds even if they live in a small apartment or urban setting.

“I hear people say they have not seen any birds to feed, but you have to attract them,” she said.

Birds also attract birds, so putting out feeders and birdbaths will bring in more common species initially.

What makes the colorful hooded oriole so much fun is the ease with which they can be attracted, even to small places like an apartment balcony.

Attracting wild birds is like having a pet, but so much easier.

“You do need to keep feeders clean and make sure birds are safe from predators like house cats and maybe put decals on large windows, so birds don’t fly into them,” she said.

After that you just need a bit of patience.

“It may take a little time for them to show up the first season, but once they find the food they will return,” she said. “If you hear something different, that might be the first sign that orioles have arrived.”

By mid-March, local gardens will be buzzing with both male and female orioles.
(Ernie Cowan)

The most popular food that birders put out for hooded orioles is a simple mixture of one part sugar and four parts water in a feeder designed for the larger beaks of the birds. The addition of red dye is not necessary.

This is the same nectar that hummingbirds devour, but orioles can’t feed through the small holes of hummingbird feeders. Oriole feeders allow both species to feed.

During the peak of oriole season, you may refill feeders frequently. Take time to clean them completely, since mold will easily develop in the sugar water mixture.

Orioles also like orange slices and there are feeders that allow you to attach an open grape jelly jar.

Orioles are messy with the grape jelly, so hang those over garden areas to avoid sticky walkways or patio furniture.

Once these lively birds find your feeders, you can enjoy a summer of activity. Males arrive first, then the females and that’s when you find them hanging upside down under your feeder, sliding down a wire to get to a feeder, or head bobbing as they bicker over who gets to eat first.

The almost electric yellow-orange and jet black of the male make them easy to identify. Females have more muted hues.

In mid-summer the fledglings will arrive, and this will increase the demand on your feeders. If you enjoy having the orioles around, keep the feeders clean and full.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Spirits fly high with comforting appearance of red-tailed hawk

The red-tailed hawk is the most common hawk in the region. (ERNIE COWAN) 


For a few brief moments I could fly.

My mind and heart were soaring on the spread wings of a red-tailed hawk as it floated by at eye level.

Without a single wingbeat, the hawk’s tail feathers flared as he banked to the right and the crisp morning sunlight ignited the brilliant red plumage.

With awe and childlike imagination I was right there, at one with the hawk, floating on gently rising air currents.

A leftover raindrop dripped from my patio roof into the fountain and snapped me back to reality.

As is often the case, the sunny morning following a rainstorm is a special time. Nature seems to go on as usual, but there is a sense of rejuvenation in the air.

The morning sunlight was warm and refreshing, a relief from the previous cold, damp days.

My hawk sighting was comforting.

Nature’s clock is still ticking.

This beautiful mature hawk was a good sign. We can look forward to another season of hawk courtship, nesting and chicks fledging.

It’s about this time each year that the hawks begin their mating ritual, followed by a flurry of activity as they touch up the huge nest in the tall pine tree about a half-mile north of Mt. Whoville.

It’s the natural rhythms that determine these things.

My morning visitor is hopefully part of the monogamous pair that have nested here over the past few years and a sign that courtship will begin very soon.

The courtship display is magnificent and often something I can enjoy at eye level or below since I am perched on top of a ridge overlooking expanses of chaparral.

The wooing process is almost poetic with the hawk pair engaging in spectacular aerobatic maneuvers that often begin with the smaller male bird circling high above the larger female then dropping quickly and touching her briefly.

This is followed by tumbles and dives, swoops and flares, extended talons and sometimes even an offering of food from male to female.

During this process mating will happen and soon there will be eggs filled with life in the nearby 3-foot-wide nest.

We know the eggs have hatched when the squawking of hungry chicks fills the air and we see the more frenzied activity of the adult hawks as they forage for their demanding youngsters.

Once eggs are deposited in the nest, they will hatch in about 28 days. During that time, both the female and male will share incubation duty, but it will be mostly the female hawk. The male will bring her food, but she will hunt when the male is tending the eggs.

At about 46 days the chicks are ready to leave the nest and that’s when the show on Mt. Whoville begins.

Awkward fledglings, lacking the red tails that don’t develop for six months or so, will be encouraged from the nest by parents. Lacking confidence, or desire, they will land in nearby trees and continue to scream, demanding to be fed.

The adult hawks will ignore them and soon you will see the youngsters flying side by side with parents as they learn to hunt on their own. It’s so much fun to watch.

For a time, you might see the youngsters hunting with more confidence, but soon they will set off to establish their own territory and begin the cycle all over again.

The annual cycle of nature’s renewal has begun.

You may not have red-tailed hawks nesting right near you, but as the most common hawk in the region, locating a nesting pair to observe should not be difficult. It’s a perfect sit-and-see activity.

Maybe our roadrunner pair will show up again this year with another youngster or my game cameras will capture a new crop of coyote pups, or even a baker’s dozen of baby opossums clinging to the back of their haggard marsupial parent.

This morning there were two spotted towhees fluttering together in obvious courtship, and for the past few nights we have heard the hooting of great-horned owls as they begin their mating ritual.

Spring is just around the corner. Soon, the yellow-rumped warblers, affectionately known as butter butts, and white-crowned sparrows will depart for summer homes far to the north.

The oak titmouse and woodpeckers that left summer breeding grounds to enjoy winter feeders here at Mt. Whoville will return to their regular territory at higher elevations of the county.

Our gardens will come alive with spring blossoms, colorful hooded orioles and hummingbirds and the new crop of songbirds, quail chicks, opossums, raccoons and squirrel babies.

At a time when the human world is so fraught with challenges, it’s comforting to know that nature ticks on faithfully.

Is there any wonder why I free my mind to soar with the hawks?

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Friday, August 21, 2020


Birds will head to Mexico for the winter

While the civilized world seems to struggle in turmoil right now, the natural clock of ages faithfully ticks on.

As another August slips from the calendar, the beat of nature goes on, and the happy visitors to my summer garden are hearing the call to launch them on a journey south.

We can’t hear this call, but the hooded orioles do, and they are eagerly preparing to return to some preordained place in Mexico for the winter.

These beautiful birds have added color, sound and joy to Mt. Whoville, as they have for thousands of other bird lovers throughout Southern California who provide food, water and nesting sites.

A week ago, I began to notice fewer brightly colored males, and this week the males are gone. This is typical, with males leaving first, followed by females and the late-crop juveniles.

For the past few weeks the orioles have been feeding aggressively at the nectar feeders, quibbling and cackling as they always do. It was a time to fatten up for the journey ahead.

They have heard the quickening call and seem a bit frenzied as they feed with purpose.

As bird migrations go, it’s not a long trip, perhaps 1,500 miles at most. They will spend the winter in southern Baja California, or in a narrow strip along the western edge of the Mexican mainland from Los Mochis, south into the state of Oaxaca.

They will not breed there but will return here next springs to build nests, lay eggs and raise the next generation of young.

This seems like an early departure year. In some years I have recorded feeding males as late as the third week of August, but this year I have not seen a mature male since Aug. 10.

I’m sure those who study birds have more answers, but it does make one wonder what unseen force signals them that it’s time to leave?

While there are increasing reports of hooded orioles overwintering because birders are providing food, the rhythm of nature still pulls most the birds south.

Perhaps it’s the lack of natural food, or some sense of coming seasonal patterns, but at any rate, it’s a bittersweet time when these beautiful creatures no longer brighten our gardens.

The beauty and joy they bring to our hearts will be missed, and that’s the bitter part. Yes, we know they will be back, and that’s the sweet part.

We eagerly await their return each spring when the early vanguard of males arrives in the last few days of February. Soon, greater numbers of males and females will fill our gardens with color and song by mid-March.

They will busy themselves collecting fiber from palms to build pouch nests that are woven under protective fronds. These glorious orange, yellow and jet-black birds will also bring delight as we watch them bicker, hang upside down, or perch on the highest point of nearby shrubs and fill the spring air with their delightful melody of whistles, chatters and warbles.

Gangly youngsters will swell the numbers at the oriole feeders, and they will grow and mature as they prepare for their first trip south.

As I watch the remaining female orioles feeding, I ponder their coming migration and life cycle. What force has determined when and where they migrate and their lifespan?

Near the oriole feeder is a potted succulent with clusters of yellow and red blossoms. Each flower blooms for a single day, but the next morning the wilted flower is replaced by a fresh, new one.

The colorful orioles “bloom” every spring in my garden and are here until a hint of fall is in the air. The flowers exist for only hours.

Perhaps it’s better to simply enjoy the different cycles than to dwell upon the reasons.

There are other critters on Mt. Whoville who are sensing the seasonal change. It might be close to 100 degrees out there, but there is something in the air that even I can feel.

Swallowtail butterflies seem a bit more intent as they float from flower to flower on the lantana hedge. The coyote pups who share our mountaintop setting are no longer accompanied by parents. My game camera sees them alone now, playfully seeking their own food and preparing for winter.

The quail chicks that were fuzzy little walnuts with legs a few months ago still visit my ground level water dish, but now they are scrawny teenagers and no longer doted over by attentive parents. Next spring the youngsters will be bringing their chicks to drink and scrounge for seeds dropped by other birds from the hanging feeder.

These are dependable and comforting cycles and allowing yourself to embrace this rhythm brings inner peace. That’s something we can all use.

Sit and see for a while. Watch and listen to nature.

There is comfort in the ageless metronome of the seasons.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Season has brought forth a baby boom of wildlife

Ernie Cowan Outdoors
It’s been quite a spring season for free-range children.
Just the other day I was sitting in a shady patch on my driveway working on a project when two toddlers suddenly ran right up to me. I could have picked them up.
A moment later there were two more, followed, I was happy to see, by a concerned adult.
Seeing me, papa sounded an assembly call and the four little quail youngsters resembling walnuts with legs, dashed back to the protection of the adult bird.
The brief encounter brought joy to my heart and a big grin to my face. The innocence of the little chicks and their curiosity had brought them to within inches of me.
While the world has been gnashing teeth over social and health issues, nature has endured, and this spring at least, seems to be thriving.
We never get enough rain in Southern California, but this year we were blessed with abundant and well-spaced storms that produced a cycle of plant growth and wildflowers and that means more insects, birds, reptiles and mammals.
That’s been quite evident here on Mt. Whoville.
As spring now transitions into summer, the hooded orioles have completed nesting and their free-range offspring are crowding my nectar feeders. Typically, I may see two or three adult orioles at any one time, but in the past week there have been nearly a dozen at times, either sipping nectar or cackling in bushes nearby. It’s an animated mixture of juveniles and adult bird.
It’s comical to watch the immature males squabbling with their female peers over who gets access to the feeders. They spend more time posturing and debating the issue than actually drinking, often while the other bird hangs upside down under the feeder.
I’m not exactly sure why we have the bumper crop of orioles this year, but several of my birding friends have commented on the same thing.
For now, I will enjoy this addition of bright yellow and black feathers and all the oriole activity until they depart in September for their winter home in Mexico.
Early this spring there seemed to be a swarm of tiny lizards here. Sitting quietly on my patio with morning coffee, it has not been unusual to see a dozen or more tiny fence lizards or skinks scurrying about. Our local roadrunner is very happy about this.
A nearby local pond brought to life by spring rains is a virtual metropolis of critters. Not half the size of a tennis court, I would estimate there were hundreds of thousands of tadpoles earlier this spring, replaced now by thousands of little frogs that launch into the water as you approach.
Even my game camera has recorded the youngsters of spring.

Several weeks ago, an obviously pregnant female coyote was captured on camera as she passed by in the dark of night. A few weeks later I caught one distant image of the now nursing female and two fuzzy little coyote pups. I had to get better images of the pups.
For the next two weeks I moved my camera to likely spots in hopes of getting pup pics. It took me awhile, with an occasional image here and there of a single pup, but last week I managed to photograph three coyote youngsters in the same shot.
The pups appear to have been weaned, because I have not seen an adult with them. They are still kids, with huge ears and feet, but like the little quail, they have a playful nature and boundless curiosity. One shot shows them playing with a bug of some kind.
My secret to success for eventually getting their pictures was placing the camera on the pathway leading to a large garden fountain. As days get warmer, water is harder to find, so my fountain offers a dependable wildlife drinking source.
Soon, these fuzzy little coyote pups will grow into their big ears and feet, and perhaps leave the comfort of their home range and expand into their own territory.
I find it such a joy to listen to the yelps and howls of these native dogs echoing through the canyons in the dark warmth of summer nights. Sometimes it’s a kind of symphony when a poorwill also chimes in with its plaintive night call.
The crop of youngsters of all kinds this spring, including birds, reptiles, and mammals, has provided a pleasant relief during these stressful times.
And did I forget butterflies? My garden is filled with unusual numbers of large swallowtails, painted ladies and colorful monarchs. It’s a good thing.
Right now, the world needs more butterflies.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

It was a wildlife encounter I can only describe as profound.
I’ve photographed desert bighorn sheep many times over 50-plus years, but this adventure was one I will never forget.
The summer heat was withering as I stepped from my vehicle in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Not only were temperatures well into the triple digits, but it was slightly after noon so there was no mercy from the pounding midday sun.
I came with high hopes of finding bighorn sheep in one of the desert canyons that has perennial water. These isolated sources of water are a thin lifeline for the animals who live in this arid place.
The air temperature alone was bad enough, but I could feel even more heat radiating off the light-colored desert sand as I followed the dusty trail.
Movement caught my eye. A jackrabbit? They are not typically active in midday summer heat.
I stopped on the trail and suddenly a massive desert bighorn ram pushed through a thicket of indigo bush and we stood face to face not more than 20 feet apart.
Encountering an animal this large and powerful in their environment might be a little concerning, but as we looked at one another I felt no sense of threat.
I knew this was a special animal.
His horns were thick, solid and fully curled from the top of his forehead back around to his eyes. The curling horns were broomed from wear at the tips, weathered and chipped from successful battles of dominance, and his fur showed scars earned from a long life in a harsh place.
Perhaps 8 or 9 years old, an elder by bighorn sheep standards, he had no doubt seen and survived everything from the challenges of other rams, perhaps mountain lion attacks and simply navigating the rugged, vertical landscape where everything claws, sticks, pokes or scratches.
As he stood staring at me, I didn’t see fear, aggression, curiosity or even wary caution. This was his domain and he was the undisputed master. I saw mutual respect and wisdom in his large, gold eyes.
For the longest time we just stood and watched one another. This was an animal who had a story to tell. I could see wisdom in his eyes.
There is instinct and there is wisdom. Instinct is for early survival, while wisdom is earned from surviving our imperfect instincts.
There is power and strength in youth, often tested and displayed simply because the youthful can. This patriarch was obviously powerful and strong, but there was no hint he would use it unless needed. He had no need to prove anything.
So many lessons were exchanged as we watched one another. Two old warriors of life, showing our age but also our respect for what each has endured to arrive at this moment and place in time.
For a time, it was like old friends sitting silently together and reflecting on lives that have seen things, done things, won, lost, lived and survived. There was the acceptance, calm, compassion and understanding that seems to come with age. These were a few golden moments.
While this magnificent ram seemed unconcerned with the 111-degree heat, I was beginning to wilt. It was time to leave.
Several other bighorns were now milling about. Smaller rams, ewes and yearling lambs fed on the dried remains of brittlebush flowers or bunches of parched native grass.
The younger rams were testing their strength by feigning battle, pushing one another, gently bumping horns, but never challenging the big ram.
All seemed to respect the leader as he fed on the parched vegetation.
For close to an hour we shared this sweltering place. In reality he allowed me to share his home. He seemed unaffected by the oppressive heat and harsh landscape, while left alone, I would survive only a short time here.
I had no idea if this ram was aware of his mortality, but he has now lived most of his years and in a few more seasons at best will fade from his role as patriarch.
He will have accomplished his singular purpose of perpetuating the species.
He is the strongest of the strong. A champion with strong genes, good survival instincts and a lifetime of earned wisdom that has been passed on to future generations.
Should we ask for anything more?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Outdoors: Ernie Cowan
Illuminating desert’s night creatures

The heat of the late summer evening was still simmering as I gazed into the sky to find Antares, the bright red heart of the constellation Scorpio.
Hanging above me at the western edge of the Milky Way, this mythical figure stood out brightly in the inky desert darkness.
While I had found the scorpion constellation, I was actually here to find the earthly version as they emerge at night to wander the desert sands in search of food.
To help me with my search, I was equipped with an ultraviolet, or blacklight, flashlight that makes these nocturnal creatures stand out distinctly.
Did you know that scorpions glow a bright, fluorescent blue-green when illuminated by ultraviolet light?
That was something I discovered decades ago when I borrowed a heavy, cumbersome blacklight from my science teacher and took it with me on a camping trip. My goal was to search for gems like calcite, fluorite, agate or any of the many “ites” that glow under ultraviolet light.
Like most kids, I was energetic and spent an evening wandering about the desert, nose to the ground, looking for the magic rock glowing in the dark.
I got more than I bargained for.
The first thing to glow in the dark was not a rock at all. I was somewhat startled when I came face to face with a brightly glowing scorpion.
I began to research these reclusive creatures and discovered they are night feeders, especially on warmer summer nights.
So now, a bit older, but just as curious as decades before, I picked a dark summer night to begin my renewed exploration. This time I was equipped with an inexpensive, lightweight blacklight ordered from an online retailer.
It didn’t take long to find my prize. In fact, I found several large scorpions during my wandering. Enough, in fact to remind me never to be out and about at night in bare feet.
The three most common scorpion species found in San Diego County include the giant hairy scorpion, the Arizona bark scorpion and the stripe-tailed scorpion. The scorpions I found on my evening walk were large enough that I suspect they were the giant hairy scorpion species.
The fluorescent glow of these spider-related creatures is startling. The blacklight is not bright, in fact, casting a soft, violet-blue glow on the ground. When a scorpion falls into the beam, however, it glows intensely.
Why, exactly, do scorpions glow in ultraviolet light?
The exoskeleton, or outer covering of this creature contains a substance that fluoresces under ultraviolet and moonlight. The unknown substance is contained in a very thin but tough coating called the cuticle.
What isn’t known is why this happens.
Some of the theories include that it helps them find each other, confuse prey, or protect them from sunlight.
Another theory suggests they may use this characteristic to determine when it is safe to come out of their underground lairs. Their decision to emerge could be based on how much ultraviolet shines upon them.
This concept comes from the fact that scorpions are less active on moonlit nights, and generally avoid harsh ultraviolet daylight.
My desert exploration proved to be fascinating. Scorpions seemed unaffected by my blacklight, but the illumination attracted small moths. The scorpions would use their lobster-like pincers to reach out and capture a moth and quickly eat it.
A very obvious feature of my nighttime companions was a formidable stinger at the end of their tails.
Fortunately, none of the scorpions found in San Diego County are deadly or even require medical treatment.