My friendly neighborhood Road Runner (Geococcyx californianus) showed up this afternoon on the northern border wall of my back yard while I was doing yoga, poolside. I remained VERY still, and watched as she ran along the top of the wall to the north west corner. A male vireo who was in a neighbor's tree, singing loudly that my back yard and pool were his territory, got the road runner's attention. She was roughly 100X his size, as the large, sleek, Lamborghini-esque raptor chicken peering up at him, the walnut sized warbler about 10 feet above her changed his song to that of "danger! danger! danger!" and flew to a perch another 5 feet higher and deeper into the leave-less mulberry tree, to put some distance between them.
But she was still hungry, so she turned South,and ran along the top of the wall, cross 1/3 of the length of my back yard in a blink of an eye... then she spotted a striped whip tail lizard, and began to stalk it. There's a plethora of lizards in my back yard, and she's just wandered into a lizard smorgasbord. I froze in my yoga pose, mesmerized. She POUNCED, and crested one of the "posts", Grabbed a 4 or 5 inch long lizard whose body was the size of one of my fingers, and Gulped it down, 2 feet above the large aloe patch beside my pool.
This impromptu meal aggravated the male black chinned hummingbird who has claimed all of my aloe as his personal nectar cafe. 10 or so feet above the Road Runner, the hummingbird chirped, clicked, hovered, and whirled. At about 150X the humming bird's size, the Road Runner paid him no attention whatsoever, and stalked down towards the South West corner behind the lemon tree. Looked all around, and then headed West down the neighbor's wall, in the same route that she took on Tuesday.
It was truly amazing to see this efficient, beautiful, streamlined, evolved avian predator patrolling in my own back yard, eating a lizard that's been eating the beetles and crickets from my back yard. When the hawk took the squirrel from the bird feeder in South Carolina, it was in a FLASH, a flurry of red wings and a wriggling furry tail being taken off into the sky through the trees, with no time to appreciate it or have it sink in. The Road Runner encounter today, by contrast, seemed to be almost in slow motion, less than 15 feet away at one point, a full 180 degree panoramic view. I am going to take my camera out with me from now on each time I do yoga in the afternoon (90% of the 2012 afternoons so far, I've spent an hour poolside, increasing flexibility, lowering blood pressure, and increasing muscle tone) in case she comes by again to hunt more lizards.
1 year ago