Greater Roadrunner — Catching Some Early Morning Sun

You may enlarge any image in this blog by clicking on it. Click again for a detailed view.

I recently made a day trip to the hamlet of San Simon in Arizona’s extreme southeastern corner, more than 2 1/2 hours from our Tucson home. It is an agricultural area, almost completely flat (albeit with mountains in the near background), and devoted heavily to the cultivation of pecans and other nuts. As it turns out, it’s also an excellent area for spotting and photographing birds.

The birds that we observed included a Greater Roadrunner perched atop a low mesquite tree. The blue background in these images is the nearby mountains.

It was a relatively chilly morning and the Roadrunner seemed to be warming up in the sunlight. It sat calmly, its back to the sun, occasionally calling, and elevating and lowering the dark blue crest atop its head.

After a minute or so, it spread its wings to expose its back to the sun, clearly as an attempt to gain maximum benefit from the sun’s warmth.

Greater Roadrunners are members of the Cuckoo family. This bird’s call was very Cuckoo-like, a loud “Coo-coo” repeated several times.

These birds have a reputation of being comical, courtesy of Warner Brothers’ cartoons. However, I have no doubt that their prey do not find Roadrunners to be comical. These birds are efficient hunters of creatures ranging from insects to small reptiles and mammals, to unwary other birds. They live up to their names by running at speeds up to or exceeding 25 miles per hour (more than 40 kilometers per hour). They have powerful beaks, which they use to seize or stab prey. They can fly — obviously, this bird flew to the top of the mesquite — but they are weak fliers and never are airborne for more than a few seconds.

I’ll photograph a Roadrunner every chance that I get. I find the species to be fascinating, both in appearance and behavior, and a true icon of our desert.

Images made with a Canon R5, Canon EF 400mm f4 DO II lens+Canon EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 800 (first two images), 1000 (third image), f5.6 @ 1/4000.

5 Replies to “Greater Roadrunner — Catching Some Early Morning Sun”

  1. The iridescent green in its wings and blue tail feathers! Great picture. I am going to guess Australia or New Zealand? I am so bad with both bird identification (from other countries) and geography! If you tell me Arizona or New Mexico my chin will drop to the floor! Beautiful shots!

  2. burrdoo says:

    Great shots; I’ve never seen one look so green before.

  3. picpholio says:

    Lovely shots Steven, my compliments.

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