Saturday, August 20, 2011

Greater Roadrunner

There is no Lesser Roadrunner that I am aware of, but nonetheless this emblematic bird of the American southwest is pretty great. At almost 2 feet long, these zygodactylic (two toes front, two toes back) cuckoos (family cuculidae) are one of the more interesting ground specialists in North America. With its shaggy crest, long tail, and predatory nature, these birds do establish a certain harkening back to the dinosaurs.They also have bits of iridescent blue throughout their tail, head, and face, which makes them more than just an oddity to see, and the males sport an excellent, flame-like streak back from their eyes that moves from blue to orange.
I was very lucky to get some great shots of this Roadrunner at the Desert Botanical Garden in Arizona. A good birding trip really needs one of those power moments, when a cool bird is identified or photographed and done with extreme thoroughness and satisfaction. That was very much the case for me with this fine specimen. Be sure to click on the pictures for a larger image.
He first strolled rather lazily by while I was actually staking out my nemesis, the Wilson's Warbler
He then proceeded into the brush without too much urgency

He then emerged a few minutes later with, one might say, a cold-blooded kill.
After he had showcased his catch, he left again, exactly the same way he went before.

(08/2011) We had a couple run-ins with the Roadrunner, and have as of yet been unable to get a really satisfactory photo, but these few get the idea across.
This specimen did not have as dark or pronounced a crest as other roadrunners I've seen, nor did it have the nifty blue and orange eye-stripe, which leads me to believe it was either adolescent or a female, or both.


  1. A slightly sexist assumption there at the end. No?


  2. With the right plumage, it would simply have been sexy.

  3. I am completely charmed by the road runner. You must find a way to show me one in person when we come out to visit.