Pam enjoys her greater roadrunner visitors…greatly. I’m still scratching my head over Geococcyx californianus. Having them call at the Border Fort here in southern Cochise County, Arizona, is cool enough–but who provides these scientific names, anyway? Geococcyx californianus. Sounds like the Californians are discussing the tailbone (coccyx) of the Earth (Geo)…or something.
Okay, so it’s really only Latin for “California earth cuckoo”. Aren’t all Californians cuckoo? Which would make that redundant?
Oh, it’s all right, y’all. I’m a survivor of the great state of Montana, where men are men and sheep run scared, where Brokeback Mountain became a hit movie, where Senator Max Baucus helped craft Obamacare legislation and then quick like a bunny announced his impending retirement when he saw the train wreck known as the Affordable Care Act coming down the track.
Wait. Sorry. Didn’t mean to rant off into interstate insults and the insult to all humans known as politics. This post is not for the birds; it’s about birds.
We get some of our best photo opportunities right here, inside the house, aiming the Canon PowerShot out through whichever window is handiest. Basically, the Border Fort serves as a non-threatening blind. All sorts of critters gravitate our way from time to time. Yesterday afternoon, Mr. & Mrs. Roadrunner showed up out west, visible from my bedroom. When their photos were compared with those taken from various windows a couple of years ago, it seemed obvious this was the same married couple.
There was one major difference, though, besides the fact that the two of them never got close enough to each other for long enough to show up in the same picture. Back when, those two were courting, clear as day. This time, as a happy and well established couple, their behavior was a bit different. Still enthusiastic, though; a greater roadrunner is nothing if not enthusiastic. Curious, too. The one I think of as the male (because the other one emanates femininity, though scientists say you can’t tell roadrunner genders apart by looking at them) apparently noticed the camera behind the glass. He didn’t do that at all in 2012, but why would he? That year, his attention was 100% on hooking up with his partner. But the PowerShot shoots a laser light at the photo target to measure the exposure. I’ve seen a previously unconcerned coyote take off like he had a rocket under his tail when he saw that red dot coming at him. Smart coyote.
The runner, though, didn’t sweat the dot. Instead, he looked right at it and came my way. In fits and starts, that is, going left some, right some, flicking his tail up, flicking his tail down…but generally moving in to see what he could see.
While Mr. Runner was in close, the portrait possibilities were incredible. At a range of ten feet or less, what camera couldn’t produce great images of this Geococcyx californianus individual? Away from the Border Fort, “stranger” roadrunners don’t act like this; they scoot on, get the heck out of the way, not overly alarmed but not taking any chances, either. That Pam’s friends consider us at least a natural part of the landscape is a high compliment. We live for experiences like these.
Finally, giving up on learning any more about that exquisite flashing light, the roadrunner moved on, circling around the back porch–which meant that it was time for me to scoot from my bedroom window to my office window. As it turned out, the light for taking pictures was just about perfect there.
That’s the thing about the greater roadrunner; the bird is just so exquisitely expressive!
But you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Those (previous) pics are (except for the header) all of bird #1, the critter I think of as male. I could have the genders reversed, of course–especially since the one I think of as female was about to show her colors (that strip on the side of the roadrunner’s head which can flare open to reveal red, white, and blue…or stay closed in “stealth mode”, all at the individual bird’s whim). However, I can definitely tell these two birds apart. Not with the naked eye so much, but when studying the blown-up photos, the differences are obvious to me.
Anyway, here are a few presentations from “Mrs. Roadrunner”.
Surely, the greater roadrunner would have to be considered one of the more entertaining birds out there. The cartoon version who’s always outsmarting Wiley Coyote has a rather limited range of movement–lightning fast, obviously, but limited nonetheless.
The real life versions are infinitely more interesting to watch.