Sunday, August 2, 2009

Afternoon of the Roadrunner

Question: and I don't know the answer--when the pioneers moved west, what did they call the bird we all affectionately call the Roadrunner? For that matter, what did they call a lot of things? I know bluebonnets were buffalo clover, but not much else.

Last summer my neighborhood was inundated with skunks. This year, thankfully, it is roadrunners all over the place. There is one that comes within two feet when I sit on the porch, cocks his eye, and walks or trots on. Sometimes he announces himself with a sharp sound like a half-broken buzzer. Sometimes I see three at a time--absolute riches of roadrunners.

One recent afternoon, a single bird was walking around, eyes peeled for tasty insects, when a white butterfly fluttered by (and yes, I like the old name flutterby better, I think), about three feet above the grass. The bird and I spotted it at the same time, and he took off, running like an Olympic sprinter with a clear track ahead, legs straight, each step a little faster than the last.

The butterfly saw him at the same time and took off in straight flight at maximum speed.

The bird ran even faster. The butterfly was pulling ahead. The roadrunner launched himself into the air, wings beating, neck stretched forward....and SCORE! one pretty little butterfly fulfilled its function as bird food.

Landing, prize in beak, the bird finished off the prize in about two bites. and calmly began walking around again, looking for bugs in the grass, on the bushes, in the air. The birds are a fair size, about the size of a pullet (half-grown chicken), but they don't seem endangered, and I've never heard of anyone eating them.

Could be they don't taste too good. Probably. They are great entertainment, so I'm glad they are around. For some reason, we all love to watch them run.


Ambulance Driver said...

"Sometimes he announces himself with a sharp sound like a half-broken buzzer."

Funny, all my life I thought they went, "Meep meep!"

If they become a nuisance, I hear the Acme Company sells all sorts of devious Roadrunner extermination devices.

charlotte g said...

I don't think we have to worry about that--the back fence abuts a large working ranch complete with a variety of predators, including wildcats.
Devious roadrunner extermination devices, huh?

charlotte g said...

duh. sorry. on my first diet DP of the day and brain not fully awake.Whaat I SHOULD say is Wile Coyote--and everyone else--can no longer order from Acme because of Homeland Security.

J.R.Shirley said...

They are neat, aren't they?