The Roadrunner, an Iconic Bird of the Desert

The roadrunner, a member of the cuckoo family, is the official Bird of the State of New Mexico. They are abundant even within the city of Albuquerque. They are regular visitors to my yard, using the ubiquitous block walls as superhighways. Unlike people, who seem to walk in the streets rather than on the sidewalks in this neighborhood, the roadrunners make great use of sidewalks and garden walls, and seem to be in the streets here only when crossing! They have smartly adapted to an urban environment.

One recent afternoon I caught sight of the young Cooper’s hawk just hanging out in what seems to have become one of its favorite spots in a pine tree, which does provide good cover for it. I was amazed that many little birds were at the feeders I provide, blissfully unaware of the presence of the hawk, who would soon be looking for dinner or an afternoon snack. I grabbed my camera and set out to photograph the hawk. As I usually do, I left the lens cap on, planning to remove it when I was settled into a chosen spot for photographing the hawk.

Silly me! I walked out the door, and about six feet to my right was a roadrunner with a hapless lizard hanging from its beak. Yes! Get that picture quick! Uh, no, remove the lens cap! In the time that took, the roadrunner swallowed it prey. Missed that one! But, the roadrunner did hang around for a few pictures before running off to another yard.

Greater Roadrunner
Greater Roadrunner. Look at that beak, capable of snapping prey in half.
Greater Roadrunner
Greater Roadrunner. Look at those feet!

I went out to photograph a hawk hiding in a tree, and instead got a roadrunner in the open and in the light. Not a bad deal overall. 🙂

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has a nice video of roadrunners in that state:

6 Replies to “Roadrunner”

  1. What a handsome profile you caught with the roadrunner, Susan! I had been living in ABQ for several weeks before I finally saw a roadrunner. I was so excited to see one run across my courtyard wall. Enjoyed the video too. Hugs!

    1. Hi, Teagan. First, thank you!
      I never get tired of seeing these birds, and I am fortunate there are a lot in my neighborhood. Several years ago I saw one slowly sneaking up on a baby mourning dove, and I didn’t feel guilty that it ran away when I got close with my camera. I was sorry I missed the shot with the lizard. They are funny and fun birds!Thanks for dropping by!

  2. If your camera is out of the bag, you need to have the lens cap off. Excellent roadrunner photos. Many years ago we had a plague of road runners in the yard. There would be half a dozen at any time, and the would circle round us while we worked in the garden like they were sizing us up on their chances of taking us down and having us for dinner. They ate all our lizards and birds and then moved on. We rarely see a roadrunner in the yard these days, but since our lizards have finally finally recovered, we might start seeing more roadrunners again.

    1. HI, Tim. You are “so” correct about the lens cap!!! I didn’t always keep the lens hood on, so now the hood is on, will stay on, and yes, the cap will come off before I ever walk out the door!! A true learning experience.
      Wow, a plague of roadrunners is a scary thought!! I like the ones that show up here, because I have never had the experience that you had. I hope what you get back is the occasional visitor that you can enjoy!

    1. Hi, Bob. Thanks!
      The roadrunners come and go all the time, but this one was just “right there” and semi-willing to pose. I had a 70-200mm on the camera because I was going to photograph a hawk. It was one of those days where things worked out better than they could have been planned! 🙂
      Thanks for dropping by today!

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