Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Greater Roadrunner

   Born to run...perhaps rather preferring not to fly, a Greater Roadrunner is quite a challenge to catch.

Running with head and tail nearly parallel to the ground, the roadrunner uses its long tail as a rudder for balance.

(Click any picture to enlarge.)

A roadrunner is a meat eater. In this case it's worm meat, but you get the idea.

Typical menu items include small mammals, snakes, lizards, centipedes, scorpions and even other birds.

          When threatened, the roadrunner displays a vivid orange and blue crescent behind each eye.

The colors inform other birds, as it did this Mourning Dove, that landing too close is unwise.

No further argument was necessary...the dove left.

Males and females look alike. They re-establish their lifelong bond each spring through rituals of dance and bowing. According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Mating is equally orchestrated: the male roadrunner leaps onto his partner’s back while holding a mouse or other food offering, which both partners grasp as they copulate. Afterward he circles his mate, bowing, cooing and flicking his tail in a stylized display.

Born to run, yes, but the belief that the roadrunner always gets away from Wily E. Coyote is a cartoon myth.

Coyotes can easily outrun a roadrunner and are major threats to them.

Still, over a million roadrunners are estimated to live in this world. Sixty-two percent of them live in the Southwestern United States.

From Southern California and now expanding all the way east to Louisiana, the Greater Roadrunner is a survivor.


Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds, Sibley Guide to Birds