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I encounter Greater Roadrunners quite frequently as I drive around rural southern Arizona. These birds seem to be at home equally in desert and grasslands. They are tough and resourceful opportunists, preying on anything ranging from insects to medium-size snakes.
Often, when I see these birds they are hunting for prey. It’s not uncommon to spot a roadrunner standing motionless in brush or grass, on the lookout for a potential meal, or racing through the open desert in pursuit of something.
The bird depicted here is the picture of alertness. It seems to be standing on tiptoes, its neck extended and its head elevated as it looks for any movement in the surrounding brush.
In this next image the roadrunner appears to have spotted something interesting. It has elevated its crest, a sure sign that the bird is excited. It has lifted its tail, a precursor to running.
Greater Roadrunners get their name from the fact that they often are seen running. These birds can fly but they are pretty weak fliers. To compensate for that, they are capable of relatively blinding speed afoot. A roadrunner’s top speed on the ground is about 26 miles per hour (about 42 kph). That’s just a fraction slower than what an Olympic sprinter might be able to manage for a few seconds.
Images made with a Canon R5, Canon RF 100-500mm f4.5-7.1 IS L zoom lens+1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 800, f10 @ 1/1600, +1 stop exposure compensation.