Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beep Beep!

I looked out the patio door yesterday evening and look who I saw on the wall:

Need to get a little closer?

The roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) was making its rounds again -- a good bit later in the day than usual.

I have never seen one come up so close to the houses -- normally they stay out closer to the edge of the yard where the canyon starts.  I snapped these photos between the shutters on one of the side windows. 

Seeing the roadrunner again reminded me that I had wanted to do a little research on them.  And,  was I ever surprised to find out that the roadrunner is a ground dwelling cuckoo!  You can see some clearer photos and hear its call here.   The roadrunner is the official state bird of New Mexico  and is a bird that prefers to walk or run, rather than fly -- although it can fly.  Articles I read report the birds being clocked at 15-17 miles per hour.

We here in the Southwest like these silly looking birds because they like scorpions and rattlesnakes.  (Cats like scorpions, too, and I've heard they are immune to their poison, although I don't know if that is true of not.) When roadrunners catch a lizard or snake, they use their strong beaks to pound the reptile to death then they swallow it -- headfirst.

The most famous roadrunner appeared in the"Looney Tunes" cartoon series where he constantly outwitted Wile E. Coyote. 

Are you ready for a really cool word?  How about "zygodactyl?"  Like all cuckoos, the roadrunner is a zygodactyl bird.  This means two of its toes point forward and the other two point backward.

All 18 (or is it 16?) toes on this lil' shitskius californianus point forward:

4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I love Pumpkin! (Also, interesting that those birds beat the snakes to death. Ick.)

scotsmad said...

Zygodactyl....we thought that was your word verification....BOL!

Hope that roadrunner isn't close to the house because there are snakes around there....close.

XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

Sarge said...

Wow, great bird pix! Mom loves the cartoon one. Teehee. Very interesting about those critters. How's the ear? Please keep us posted.
Grr and Woof,
Sarge, COP

solsticekennels said...

We love the Beep Beeps! At my old office they would sit on my truck and come up to our glass door to look at themselves. They like bologna :-), don't ask how I know that LOL.