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Roadrunners at Scurlock Farms

Published on April 14, 2016 by sherons

Roadrunners, sometimes called Chaparal Cocks, are SO much fun to watch.  We have several “families” on the farm that raise their babies every year.  You are sure to see roadrunners at Scurlock Farms no matter the time you visit!

Did you know the roadrunner is the fastest land bird in the United States and can reach speeds up to 17 mph on the ground?

They love to eat snakes, including rattlesnakes – woohoo!  They prefer to run, but if cornered or if they feel threatened, they will fly short distances into a tree or over a fence.

During the Spring and Summer while they are raising their families, we see them running up and down the road every time we go anywhere about the farm.  Often there will be a bug or lizard hanging out the side of their mouths.

Roadrunner on windowsill

Roadrunner with big-winged bug

If you look closely, you will see this roadrunner was successful in finding dinner – a large winged bug is hanging out of his beak.

We have seen them run up to 1/2 mile down the drive to their favorite “hunting grounds” for lizards, etc.

Sometimes they will pace the car, running beside us in the grass.  Other times they will fly into brush or a tree on the fence line.

If Jack, our Great Pyrenees, is in the front yard, they will flatten their necks and tails out to try and stay hidden in the grass.  They just don’t know that he has already realized that he can’t catch them!

Jack in the pecan orchard

Jack, our Great Pyrenees

We have spotted several of the roadrunner’s nests.

The nests are very messy with sticks sticking out everywhere.  One year a nest was in a huge oak tree in our backyard.  The adult roadrunners would run up the limb leaning over the bluff to their nest.  We had a large fireworks display July 4, and they moved from their nest the next day!

Another year, a nest was in a pecan tree along the drive.

In 2014 one nest was just above eye level in a pyracantha bush where we keep our trash cans.

I loved the pair of roadrunners in the pyracantha bush in 2014.

Every time I took trash to the large trash bin just below her nest, we would both studiously avoid eye contact.  Needless to say, she sat still as a stone!

In 2015 a pair of roadrunners had a nest in the rafters of the goat barn.  The babies leave the nest after about 2 weeks, so they grow very quickly.

Last year while working in the yard at Rocky Overlook, I noticed 3 roadrunners circling a circular flower bed, keeping their distance from each other.   Turned out it was 2 males courting the same female.  The male makes a mournful cry when trying to attract a female – maybe to make her feel sorry for him?

 

We often hear roadrunners making this clacking sound!

After a few trips around the flower bed, two of the roadrunners headed off together and the third attempted to follow.

All of a sudden one of the pair attacked the follower and the follower decided he was no match, and retreated to a fence post.  When I finished working in the yard, he was still sitting there, making his mournful cry.  Didn’t look like he was having much luck attracting another lady friend!

Guests in The Palette Pad have been thrilled to see roadrunners on their window ledges looking for bugs.

Last week, Leo from Minnesota, staying in Rocky Overlook, told me they saw a roadrunner in the front yard.  The roadrunner then ran around to the back yard and hopped up on the broad steps to the sliding glass doors and looked in at them!  Leo took some salad out to feed the roadrunner, but it flew up onto the roof.  Leo didn’t know that the roadrunner diet is made up of insects, so the salad did not interest the bird.

Roadrunner on grill at Scurlock Farms

Roadrunner on grill at Scurlock Farms

Did you know roadrunners take baths?  If so, what kind do you think they take?

I was giving a tour to a couple of avid birders from Kansas in 2015.  As we drove through a pasture, the lady spotted something flopping around in the dust in the entryway to a pasture and asked what it was.  We looked and it was a roadrunner taking a dirt bath!  She had never seen a live roadrunner, so this was a “lifer” for her as she had never seen a roadrunner before.  Needless to say, she was thrilled!

We have enjoyed watching roadrunners outside our dining and bedroom floor-to-ceiling windows.  They hop up on the windowsills and cock their heads trying to see in.  We will hear them pecking on the windows as they search for bugs and small lizards along the edges of the brick.

Watch this unbelievable fight between a roadrunner fighting it out with a large rattlesnake, and winning! 

They use their wings like a matador’s cape to  confuse the snake so it doesn’t know where to strike.  They are so fast they jump out of the way, then grab the snake by the mouth or the tail and beat it to death on the ground!!

Come visit us at Scurlock Farms and see the roadrunners for yourself!  Keep your camera ready.

Meet The Author
Dan and I were childhood sweethearts and will celebrate our 53 anniversary in May. We moved to the country in 1971 and have loved raising our two boys on the farm. After my parents died, we acquired the 112 acre farm and bought the adjoining 60 acre farm. We now have 172 beautiful acres with a little over one mile of San Gabriel River frontage. We remodeled the three homes on the farm and have offered them as vacation rental homes since 2010. We have hosted guests from every state and 21 countries and have loved meeting many different people. We raise cattle, goats, hay and pecans on the farm and there is always something going on! I love giving tours of the farm to our guests in a Polaris and show them the river, animals, hiking areas and give a little history of the farm. Well behave pets are welcome and the owners and the pets love being able to be off-leash. Wildlife is abundant and guests love seeing deer, bobcat, fox, coyote, raccoon, possom, rabbits, skunks, and armadillo. The farm is a birder's delights with the varied terrains - prairie top pastures, wooded hillside and bluffs, heavily wooded areas, and the river wetlands. Many bird watchers have seen lifers while visiting (a bird they have never seen in person before). Roadrunners are a favorite! Our youngest son was only 6 weeks old when we moved to the farm and he has built a home along the bluff and raised his family here. Our oldest son owns a business in Dallas and when he retires, he will move back to the farm. Guests have loved fishing and tubing the river, looking for fossils, or simply skipping rocks and wading with their little ones. Others have enjoyed hiking the spring-fed creek bed, looking for arrowheads, and hiking about the 172 acres. Others have enjoyed sitting in the outdoor areas of the homes and soaking up the peace and quiet as they enjoy the beauty from the bluffs and watch the birds and wildlife that comes by.
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