When you hear the phrase “Beep, Beep”, what do you think of? If you experienced Saturday morning cartoons in the fifties, sixties and seventies as a child or an adult who had a child, you will probably think of the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.
The coyote was always trying to catch the roadrunner. What was the company that the coyote ordered from to purchase devises to nab the roadrunner? Acme. Somehow, the traps or whatever always seemed to backfire.
The Warner Brothers cartoon roadrunner.
All this to say that recently we had a roadrunner in the yard long enough for me to snap some photos.
He appeared to be a young one and not as inclined to run as most do. Roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus) live in deserts and all of the arid southwestern US.
The Roadrunner is also called the chaparral cock. Since they can only fly a short distance, they prefer to run and can reach speeds up to 17 mph.
Because of their lightening speed, they are one of the few creatures that feed on rattlesnakes. Using its wings like a matador’s cape, it snaps up a coiled rattlesnake by the tail, cracks it like a whip and repeatedly whacks its head against the ground until it is dead.
Its speed also enables it to catch a hummingbird or dragonfly in midair.
They also eat insects, scorpions, lizards, rodents, other snakes, and even other birds. It swallows its prey whole but is often unable to swallow the entire length at one time. The roadrunner continues to walk around with the snake dangling from its mouth, consuming another inch or two as the prey is slowly digested.
Roadrunners are uniquely suited to the desert climate since they eat moist food and reabsorb water from their feces before excretion. A nasal gland eliminates excess salt, instead of using the urinary tract like most birds. They also tend to stay under a shady cover in the heat of the day.
“Life is like a ten speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.” Charles M. Shulz