Prize Bird

Adding a new bird species to my life list is getting to be more of a thrill each time it happens. Which isn’t often enough, anymore. I’m up to 489, and usually have to travel somewhere exotic to get anything new. So in January, a trip to Arizona had as one of its goals… to see a roadrunner.

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DSCN4855In Saguaro National park, (the eastern section is called Rincon Mountain District) we heard from the staff at the Visitor Center that roadrunners had been seen near the Javelina picnic site early in the day. (Javelinas, or wild pigs would be a good sighting, too, but we’d seen them years ago in Texas). By the time we’d driven the Cactus Forest Drive loop road and reached the picnic area, it was almost noon, and quite busy. No self-respecting roadrunner would want to get near that crowd, we thought. We drove on…and what should appear off the side of the road but…a roadrunner. Hurrah!

Now to get a picture. Not an easy task to capture a moving target with a little point and shoot camera, from the passenger seat, through the driver’s side window, through a tangle of mesquite branches. It wasn’t moving like its speedy and wise-guy cartoon counterpart. But the photo was not satisfying. Oh well, at least the bird could be added to the list. Mission accomplished. We were happy.

DSCN4927Next day, following advice from the National Park staff, we visited Sabino Canyon. There we could ride a shuttle for almost 4 miles up the road, getting off at the top to walk back down if we wished. We did. It was warm and sunny, and the trail wound past amazing rock formations, cactus, with Mt.Lemmon meltwater gurgling by and forming pools that attracted bird life.

And what should appear…. another roadrunner. It didn’t seem shy, but moved gradually closer. Better pictures, and a much clearer sighting. Yah!

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Back at the base of the trail…a roadrunner! Come on, these things are as common as robins back home. Then someone told us they like to hang out around picnic spots to get handouts, like our gray jays. Really? Guess this bird isn’t as elusive as we’d thought. Still it was a big thrill to me. This time I got a closer shot as roadrunner posed elegantly on the bench.

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