How to See a Roadrunner

The most-asked question at tourism offices in Arizona?

How can I see a roadrunner?

Tip #1: Go where roadrunners live.

Like the “Location, location, location” maxim about the three things that matter in real estate, Tip #1 applies at more than one level. Of course, you must first go to areas where roadrunners live: the deserts of Central America, Mexico, and the southwestern USofA.

But now that you’re here, in the SW USA, remember that downtown Scottsdale is unlikely to produce as many sightings as the scrubby desert that surrounds metro Phoenix, or even as many as the desert washes meandering through Gilbert and providing paths for walking and for the occasional flash flood.

5-photo collage of dry and flooded desert wash

Tip #2: Go on foot.

The view through a car’s windshield is the far vista, the grand sweep of the land, the large contrasts. Roadrunners inhabit the near shadows, and the small patches between and under thorny bushes; they blend in as a matter of professional pride. A walking pace puts you in position to see the telltale dart of movement, the distinctive flick of that ridiculous tail.

2-photo collage of roadrunners lurking under cover

4-photo collage of roadrunners taken with short lens

Tip #3: Go without your camera.

To improve your odds of a sighting, leave the camera at home. Although scientists have yet to determine the causal mechanism, they don’t dispute the fact: Merely carrying a camera can keep the roadrunners out of sight altogether.


Tip #4: Go again, with your longest/heaviest lens.

The universe may not really be out to get you, but you can’t expect to see a roadrunner on every walk. On the other hand, any walk can turn into a roadrunner photo shoot. With never-before-seen-or-captured-by-you scenes of a roadrunner with a lizard!

2-photo collage of roadrunner with lizard in beak

With never-before-captured-by-you close-ups!

4-photo collage of roadrunner close-ups

And with a chance at a shot that could be your new favourite!

Indignant roadrunner


This entry was posted in Appreciating Deeply, Laughing Frequently, Photos of Fauna and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to How to See a Roadrunner

  1. Ralph says:

    Wowzers !!! Fabulous, really fabulous, photos of the beast !

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Ralph – Many thanks. He (?) was apparently indifferent to my presence. Within limits . . . 🙂

  2. Lorna Shapiro says:

    Absolutely delightful Isabel. How did you do it without your camera?

  3. Jim Robertson says:

    excellent pics and story/description. Love the last shot too

  4. Tom Watson says:

    Yogi Berra was asked, “How do you catch a knuckle ball?” Yogi replied, “Wait until it hits the ground and stops rolling.”

    So…how do you catch a roadrunner?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – LOL – Likely the same way! I’ve just hardly ever seen them NOT rolling, as it were. Short legs (compared to mine), but they can really motor.

  5. Marilyn Smith says:

    Beautiful photos Isabel! And nary an anvil or coyote in sight!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marilyn – Thanks! One year some other walkers reported coyote pups in a den too close for comfort, but I haven’t seen any.

  6. Amazing, Isabel. Also, Amazing Isabel. Thank you for boldly going in the spirit of StarTrek and other trekkers.

  7. Judith Umbach says:

    Wonderful! Both the “advice” and your photos. Congratulations on the close-up, particularly.

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