Living in the desert has introduced me to a whole new ecosystem, full of wonderful plants and animals. Recently, the bird pictured below ventured into our backyard. It even posed for a picture before jumping off the wall in pursuit of a lizard. Name this ground bird found in the desert southwest. (Hint: This species owes its popularity to a cartoon character.)
Diagnosis: Greater Roadrunner
If you got the answer right, congratulations. Since this bird is crouching, it is difficult to appreciate its long legs and tail. Adult roadrunners often reach 20 to 24 inches from beak to tail. They are carnivorous birds, preying upon rodents, reptiles, insects and other birds. Here in Arizona, my neighbors love these birds because they eat rattlesnakes. Roadrunners are so fast that they can actually catch a rattlesnake without being bitten. The bird grabs the snake by the tail and then beats it to death on the ground. Truth be told, I feel sorry for the snake. It must be an awful way to go. After the snake is dead, they swallow it or as least as much of it as they can. I have seen roadrunners walking around with a few inches of snake hanging out of their mouths.