Monday, November 21, 2011

My First DBG Roadrunner Spotted in 2011

On Saturday morning, after visiting the Central Phoenix Farmer's Market, I stopped by the Desert Botanical Garden to renew our memberships.  I was delighted to spot my first roadrunner of the year, as he was hunting for lizards in the open prairie on the south east side of the garden.  He was nearly as big as a 2 year old Tom Turkey, but darted rapidly among the cacti, sage, mesquite, rocks, and desert landscape. 

I remained on the walking path and did not venture out into the prairie, as a good DBG visitor always should.  There was a saguaro cactus and a creosote bush blocking my view, so I had to push my camera's zoom to the limits. Look below, and see if you can "find Waldo" hidden in the landscape.  =)
Approaching the weaponized cholla

Darting back to the left.
Above cholla, behind mesquite. Fish-hook barrel cactus in the foreground.
It was wonderful to watch the big bird run, stalk, raise and lower it's tail feathers, dart again... hungrily looking for a lizard or rodent to have for brunch.

I ran into an elderly DBG patron who said he visits the garden every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and he told me there were "about 5" roadrunners in the garden.  This was the first one I'd seen in the garden since 2007, when Dr Desert Flower and I were eating at the Terrace Cafe, when a roadrunner dove towards the base of a refuse dumpster at the far edge of the terrace, and HOPPED back up, with a rat in it's saws.  I related this story to the older patron, and he said "yes, the roadrunners beat their pray against a rock to kill them, and then swallow them whole!  I looked at him incredulously.  "That rat was at least 1/2 the size of the road runner" I told him.  Not being one to be upstaged by a young whipper snapper like me (I was even wearing dungarees!) he told me he once saw a barn own swallow an entire rabbit, whole, while baby barn owls stood next to their parent (for scale reference).  He said he got a picture of the rabbit 1/2 way down, and then another picture of Just the Feet sticking out of the owl's mouth.  He added "like a heron with a skinny neck that eats large fish, these raptors don't care how big their prey is, they're determined to swallow it regardless." 

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