Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

December 15, 2009

Roadrunners

Filed under: backyard, behavior, Birds, favorite places, light, Veterans Oasis Park — richditch @ 2:52 pm
Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

It was a good week for encounters with Greater Roadrunners.

A few days ago I spent a couple hours walking around at Veterans’ Oasis Park in Chandler, AZ. It is still a rather barren location as the plantings haven’t made much progress in growing, so I didn’t find many birds to photograph. My luck changed when I came upon this bird working the concrete culvert on the farm property on the other side of the park fence. The fence must have been just enough of a separator to make the roadrunner feel comfortable with my presence as it continued to hunt within 20 feet of me for the next 20 minutes. After a few too tight shots I pulled the 2x converter off my 300/2.8 lens to give me more flexibility in composing this active bird. The image at the top of this post shows how well this large bird blends in with the browns and tans of the desert.

The roadrunner was an interesting subject to watch. It moved along purposely along this culvert, looking under every bush in came to for anything it could catch and eat. It also made frequent trips down into the culvert to check out the tumbleweeds for other possible meals.

My higher viewing position (to shoot over the metal fence) and the continuous activity of the roadrunner limited my options for clean backgrounds and classic compositions, but I’m quite happy with this shot when the roadrunner paused momentarily.

D200, 300/2.8, ISO 400, 1/100th second @ f/8, 12/11/09, 82% of frame (cropped to level image).

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Three days later I got to watch another roadrunner hunting: this one in our back yard. We’ve had a couple visit the yard on and off in previous years, but its been a while since they were regular visitors. This bird, though, seems to have figured out that we feed the doves and sparrows late in each day. We saw him take a House Sparrow a few days ago but I wasn’t expecting him and didn’t have any camera gear ready.

But just after putting seed out yesterday I noticed the roadrunner crouching low to the ground hoping a dove or finch or sparrow would not notice and come in close to feed. Since all the other birds were aware of it and staying away with an eye on the menace I had time to get the camera set up and got out on the patio to watch. Again I went without the 2x converter as I needed more light for the longer slower optic.

The roadrunner made a few rapid rushes at the group of ground-feeding birds but was not successful while we watched.

D200, 300/2.8, ISO 400, 1/80th second @ f/4, 12/14/09.

Greater Roadrunner in cactus

Greater Roadrunner in cactus

As long as I’m writing about this subject, here’s another image of probably the same bird from our back yard on 09/01/09 hiding in the cactus overlooking the feeding area. When I discovered this bird I grabbed the only camera nearby and rushed out for any shot I could get.

Nikon D70, 55-200 @ 200, ISO 400, 1/250th second @ f/5.6, 09/01/09.

Greater Roadrunner on wall

Greater Roadrunner on wall

Finally, here’s another shot of the 09/01/09 bird, taken earlier in the day from inside the house. I was able to open the big sliding window without spooking this bird and shoot with the D70 and 55-200 lens @ 185mm, ISO 400, 1/250th second @ f/7.1. I don’t know why the legs of this bird are bluish while the 12/11/09 bird at the top of this post has beige legs.

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