A bird born to run, the Greater Roadrunner can outrace a human,
kill a rattlesnake, and thrive in the harsh landscapes of the Desert Southwest.
– All About Birds
On other trips to the American Southwest I’ve taken decent close-ups of roadrunners by being both lucky (right place, right time) and persistent (going back to the right place day after day). Like most living things, their next move is often unpredictable. Like most effective predators, their next move is often fast.
It’s always a thrill to see one. After all, they’re well camouflaged for this environment, and they tend to skulk under bushes and dart from one bit of cover to the next. But “tend” is le mot juste: They sometimes do that darting across a path where someone is standing with a phone. (The loud crunch crunch in two places in the video is me moving my feet to shift my, um, footing so I could follow the bird as it moved. Otherwise, it was a quiet day: No audible roadrunner cooing and hardly any wind noise.)
I’ve been wondering why it’s so wonderful to see them. I’m not the only one who finds it so: On this day, other walkers stopped to watch it. On another day, a photographer ahead of me on the trail spent several minutes waiting to see if a roadrunner would emerge from the brush enough and long enough to allow a shot.
I think it’s because they’re relatively limited in range. Other spectacular birds are a little more accommodating: Cardinals overwinter in our backyard; sandhill cranes migrate through the Ottawa area. In a world of same-same shopping on every Caribbean island and same-same branded clothing in every part of the world, it’s fantastic to see something that is distinctively of the place I happen to be in.