“Greater Roadrunner couples defend a territory of about 7,500 to 8,600 sq ft in size. The male is more territorial, calling out to warn competitors, and does not hesitate to physically push the intruders out of his territory.”
A bird born to run, the Greater Roadrunner can outrace a human, kill a rattlesnake, and thrive in the Sonora Desert. Sounds like a super hero character to me. They call out with a nasel “meep meep” when running from danger.
I didn’t see Roadrunners when we moved to our new desert digs over a year ago. We lived in a rental not far from here. That’s when I made friends with “Meep Meep.”
Some months later after we moved, I saw Meep Meep racing by while yelling out to me like Roadrunners do. You know, the ‘meep meep’ tune. I knew then that he missed me.
Meep Meep likes chatting with me most days, I think. He knows I’ll be sitting in my chair on the front patio during the late afternoon in the shade.
When we chat, Meep Meep stops his race to dinner at the end of my driveway about 15 feet from me. “Maybe a lizard will walk bye,” I imagined he was saying to himself. With a “coo coo” sound I think he said, “What’s up Sparky?”
With that question, we launched into a conversation about Halloween. He wanted to know about all the scary stuff in the front yards within his protected territory. So did his friends.
It seemed for a moment Meep Meep was distracted. When he looked up at me again, I noticed a big lizard caught with his sharp pointed beek. He proceeded to gulp the lizard down his throat. “Yummy,” he coo coos.
Once he got refocused on our chat he started the “coo coo” tune again. I imagained him saying, “I love lizards, but rattlesnakes are especially yummy. We don’t see many snakes here, though. You humans relocate them to far away places.”
I learned a bit more from my Roadrunner friend about catching rattlesnakes. He explained, “rattlesnakes don’t fool us, we fool them.” I gathered between lines of coo coos and meep meeps, that Roadrunners encircle the snake at great speed rendering it confused and dizzy. It is in that moment when the snake’s neck is snapped.
Maybe I heard also that catching a rattlesnake would feed his whole family and friends, too. It’s kinda like “trick or treat,” I thought.
Do Roadrunners fly?
I’ve always wondered about that question. So, I asked him, “why don’t you fly like other birds, Meep Meep?” He was quick to coo, “we can fly some when there is danger. That’s when I yell meep meep.”
He contined, “Running is better in a small neighborhood. We don’t get out much unlike flying birds. Besides we catch more lizards than flying birds because we are smarter and faster.”
Meep Meep’s pad
According to my pal Meep Meep, he makes his family nest in the large Prickly Pear Cactus down the street. They are very safe tucked away in the cactus, using the sharp needles like a fence. Males make a nest for themselves, while mom makes her own nest.
What about the kids?
The family living quarters could include 2 to 8 siblings, all vying for attention at once. The kids leave the nest after about 3 weeks. This when they can hunt lizards on their own to give mom and dad a break.
“Sometimes the male will dangle a food offering, such as a lizard or snake, from his beak to entice the female. Other times, the male will wag his tail while bowing and making a whirring or cooing sound, then he jumps into the air and onto his mate.”
The best part about my pal Meep Meep is his humor and happy go lucky behavior. He’s a good dude and kind. I’m looking forward to our next chat in the neighborhood.