First, coyotes. Now, barn swallows. Roadrunners can't catch a break.

You'd think that by now I'd have learned not to leave my camera inside when I retire to the front porch for Sunday morning coffee. I invariably see things that I wish I could share with you, but by the time I rush back inside, the moment has passed and all you're left with are my inadequate descriptions.

Yesterday morning was a great example. As I was drinking coffee and doing my "Through the Bible in a Year" reading, a movement on the neighbors' roof line caught my eye. I did a double-take; it was a roadrunner, one of the goofier denizens of our ecosystem. Very odd to see it atop a roof, but things got stranger, as a second one appeared. I was also surprised to hear their odd "clattering" sound, a series of rapid clicks they make with their beaks. I've never been close enough to a roadrunner to hear that (you can listen to a recording on this entry in Wikipedia).

The roadrunners had attracted attention from more than this curious human. A veritable swarm of barn swallows was dive-bombing the bigger birds, making them feint and duck. Roadrunners are omnivorous, and not above raiding nests of others birds for both eggs and nestlings. I doubt they would pose a real danger to barn swallows given the usual inaccessibility of their nests, but the swallows weren't taking any chances. (They're a lot more assertive than one might imagine, anyway.)

I watched for a minute or so, and decided to run in and grab the camera and long lens. Of course, by the time I returned, the drama was over. The roadrunners had flown the coop, so to speak (I spotted one of them running around a block north of our house) and the swallows had dispersed, presumably to find other prey for their bullying gang.

I'm sorry I couldn't capture any photos to share with you, but not to worry, because I've come up with an artist's rendering that I think does full justice to the scene that played out this morning. I'm sure you'll agree that it accurately captures the pathos and drama of the complex interchange between the species.

Cartoon drawing


I love roadrunners. And this is a much more lovely picture than the one you posted first yesterday. Just sayin'. :)

I'm always impressed by your artistic ability.

I love roadrunners, by the way. I think they'd be blessed by your portrayal.

...and the barn swallows can be proud as well, I think. They look like F-14 Tomcats. ;-)

Awesome image ... it's almost like I'm right there!

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on August 17, 2009 6:03 AM.

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