Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

April 16, 2009

Greater Roadrunner

Filed under: Birds, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, Non Birds, technique — richditch @ 3:19 pm
Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

The Greater Roadrunner is one of those birds closely associated with the desert southwest, and well known to most people even if they aren’t birders. That widespread familiarity comes from the old Warner Brothers cartoons featuring the Wylie Coyote, and less so from the late 60’s Plymouth muscle car.

The actual bird (Geococcyx californianus) is a very interesting species and well deserving of its cult status. Its closest relatives (other than the Lesser Roadrunner to our south) are the cuckoos and anis. The roadrunner has unique behavior, spending most of its time on the ground – you are far more likely to see it staking through low vegetation, or perched on a rock or fencepost looking for prey, than flying even short distances.

Its a large bird, and sometimes doesn’t mind close approach. This portrait was taken of an unbaited wild bird at the Water Ranch, in Gilbert, AZ. I just sat down in the plowed field some distance away from the bird and took photos as it came very close.

But you can never count on seeing one, and this bird that was around the Water Ranch for a few months has moved on somewhere else. Just like the roadrunner that used to come to our backyard for a few months to poach House Finches, House Sparrows, and unwary Inca Doves.

As a sign of the popularity of this species, here are a couple of photos from my Vanity Plate collection.

VA Vanity Plate

VA Vanity Plate

NJ Vanity Plate

NJ Vanity Plate

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