Thursday, June 14, 2012

Greater Roadrunner

Written By: Skeeter & Marolyn Lasuzzo
Photography By: Skeeter Lasuzzo

Have you ever been riding down a dirt road and have a bird run out in front of you and sprint down the road then dart to the side into the brush?  If so, it was probably a Greater Roadrunner and this situation is believed to be how it got its name.  The Roadrunner's home was originally in the desert southwest, but by the 20th century it had spread as far east as Louisiana and Missouri.

There are some interesting facts about the Roadrunner.  A Roadrunner will warm up after a cold night by fluffing its back feathers, exposing its dark skin.  The dark skin will absorb heat from the sun.  A Roadrunner can run over 20 miles an hour.  It is carnivorous, feeding on snakes, insects, frogs, and even other birds.  

Marolyn and I have seen a roadrunner crouch down below a small tree next to our bird feeder and wait for small birds to get a seed from the feeder and fly to the tree.  It would then leap straight up with lightening speed and grab the bird.  We have observed the roadrunner eat the bird feathers and all, but sometimes, we think when it was feeding young, it would pull all the feathers from the bird until the bird was featherless and head toward the woods with its prey.  Roadrunners have been known to capture a snake and beat it on a rock until it was dead.

The Pueblo and Hopi Indians believed the Roadrunner would protect them from evil spirits and early frontier people believed if you were lost and followed a Roadrunner, it would lead you to a trail.

We see quite a few Roadrunners at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.  We watched this one continually catch insects and run into the woods only to return in a few minutes to catch more insects.  We think it was feeding young. 

ED:  Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Big Mineral arm of Lake Texoma, at 6465 Refuge Road.  The refuge lands are open daily from sunrise to sunset, free of charge.  Stop by the Visitor Center and Refuge Office, posted hours, for maps, printed wildlife and trail guides and other  literature and information.  The Visitor Center is staffed by Friends of Hagerman and other volunteers.

1 comment:

  1. We live on a narrow country back road and seem to have several families of roadrunners on our land. The best thing I've observed was several years ago when one of our kittens was in the front yard (which is very close to the road) and was on the inside of the wire fence while a juvenile roadrunner was on the outside of the fence. Each of them ran up and down the fence line as though chasing the other but neither of them crossed through the wire to the other side or made any aggressive moves while engaged in what seemed like a game to them. Eventually they both tired of it and the roadrunner went down the road........