Tuesday, January 28, 2014

In Search of the Elusive Greater Roadrunner

Dude: "Embarrassingly enough, I've never seen a Greater Roadrunner."

Me: "That's not that weird if you've not really spent much time birding the southwest."

Dude: "You think we have a chance of seeing one today?"

Me: "I never really count on seeing a Roadrunner, I just kind of run into them while I'm driving somewhere.  I mean, we may see one, but it's all just kind of luck, you know?"

Cut to several hours later...

Me (driving): "Roadrunner!"

Dude: "Where?!?!"

Me: "We just passed it on the side of the road."

Wheels squeal as we turn around...

Me: "It just ran under that fence, out of sight. Did you see it?"

Dude: "Yea, definitely."

Me: "Badass.  Wish we could have had better looks."

Cut to 90 seconds later...

Me: "Dude, there's another."

Dude: "There are three of them!"

Me: "Holy shit, dude!  Look at them all out in the open, not giving a fuck!"

Crest raised, tail cocked.  These fuckers kill rattlesnakes by bashing them against rocks.  No lie.  Fucking metal.
Postocular streak of blue and red bare skin.  Does life get better than this?  And goddamn; look at the pattern on the crest.
So, that's how that went down.  Dude is this guy I met while leading a bird walk the day before.  Dude is in town doing some work for his post doc.  Dude seemed cool, so I invited him on the Long-tailed Duck chase.  Dude got some nice life birds.

As I've pointed out with sparrows and longspurs, the backs of birds are undervalued.  Look at that shit.
I love everything about this bird.  Next time you see one, pull over and look at it.  It will change your life.
In addition to the unexpected but much appreciated Greater Roadrunner, we got Dude on a bunch of southwestern-ish life birds: Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Towhee, Verdin, Black-crested Titmouse, and Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

Rufous-crowned Sparrow - another under appreciated bird of the southwest.  In addition to looking exactly like a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, the black lateral throat stripe is diagnostic.
Canyon Towhee

So, yea.  That's how you see a Greater Roadrunner.


  1. Dreamy shots. Glad you left out the finale: Dude murders a bunch of birds for "science."

  2. What a lucky dude! Great shots of the road runner...that postocular streak is pretty cool. Hope I find one my next trip out west!

  3. Jaw dropping stuff, more crushes than the ocean deep.

    You've typified the experience of a Roadrunner perfectly--random, and thus always exciting and unexpected, and furthermore absolutely marvelous with their combination of color, pattern, and ice-cold predatory skills. They're freaking raptors in the dinosauric sense of the word. I've seen them run straight up trees, head butt Mourning Doves off their nests, and run off with the chick, before thrashing it into swallow-able pieces. If these birds were ostrich size, mankind would be doomed.

  4. Gotta love the roadrunner even if it munches my favorite herps. All hail the King.

    1. I do love the roadrunner, although I wouldn't mind seeing a cottonmouth munching on a chestnut-sided warbler.