The Greater Roadrunner is incredibly difficult to capture in a photo. They’re always on… Well… The road. And I’m usually driving on the road.
One of my favorite places to bird is in our “Collective back yard” (as I mentioned previously). The Rio Grande Nature Center, off of Rio Grande Boulevard, is nearly always filled with a wide variety of birds. This weekend was no exception, even though it was really windy on Sunday when I went. Lucky for me, this Roadrunner made an appearance that was just slow enough that I could grab a couple of photos.
Our state bird is unique in many ways, but one of the things that differentiates it from other birds is its preference for running over flying. Roadrunners will choose to run – at speeds of 15 miles per hour or more – on the ground whenever possible, only flying when absolutely necessary.
Roadrunners live in the southwest and south central U.S., where they’re most common in the most southern region of their range and down into Mexico. We’re used to seeing them among the low brush in our high desert, because that is their most common habitat.
Their diet is made up of small mammals, such as mice and small ground squirrels. They also enjoy eating lizards and snakes, as well as scorpions, tarantulas, and centipedes. They’re also known to eat other small birds like Hummingbirds, even leaping up to catch them when they are in flight! They will, on occasion, eat fruits and seeds.
The Greater Roadrunner probably mates for life, and their pairing ritual is incredibly charming. When a male finds a female with whom he wants to spend life, he will chase after her, take her a stick or a blade of grass, and place it at her feet with a slow,deliberate bow. They will nest anywhere from two to 12 feet above the ground, where they will lay anywhere from two to six eggs. The eggs will be incubated for about 20 days by both parents, with the male doing the lion’s share of the sitting. Both parents will feed the young once they’ve hatched. And the young will leave the nest after about three weeks, but the parents will still feed them for another three to four weeks.
Our state bird is a fascinating species. Keep your eyes peeled for them, especially while driving on the road!