Friday, September 5, 2014

Roadrunner: The Sprinter of the West

Hi everyone! The year's moving right along, isn't it? I can't believe it's already the month of September and we'll be having Thanksgiving dinner relatively soon. Without further ado, let's move on to our "usuals".

Days till:
It is: 6 days till Patriot Day
It is: 7 days till Dolphin Tale 2's theatrical release
It is: 38 days till

In the Spotlight:
Not much to share today, but I've found quite literally a treasure trove of clips and interviews for the upcoming Dolphin Tale 2 movie! I can't believe it's coming out next week! I am so excited (needless to say, right?). I don't know if I'll be able to see it in theaters, but you can be sure that if I can't, I'll be one of the first people to check it out on DVD!

Here are several movie clips, actor and actress interviews for Dolphin Tale 2:

See? I told you I found a lot of stuff! And those are just movie clips (which, I might add, are totally awesome!), below are some interviews for the movie:

Am I finished yet? Nope! I found out some more cool information: remember Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who portrayed Hazel Haskett in Dolphin Tale 1? Well, not only is she reappearing in DT2 (which, if you watched any of those clips above, you should know that), she also wrote and sung the song that's going to be at the end credits called Brave Souls! This is really exciting for me. Here is her beautiful song below:

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan

Roadrunners are small, fast ground birds.
After moving to Utah, my family has seen a lot of really amazing things in nature, from the red mountains to cool desert plants and animals. One bird that particularly caught my interest is small ground bird common in the deserts in the southwestern parts of the United States: the roadrunner! While strange-looking, they're really interesting things I learned about the roadrunner that really surprised me and things that might come as a surprise to you. So let's learn more about the roadrunner.

Just as portrayed in the show, roadrunners are fast-running ground birds.
Needless to say, (if you're over the age of 40) you remember a roadrunner from the television show by the same name, in which this bird frequently foils Wile E. Coyote's plans to capture the bird and eat him. Despite being ground birds, roadrunners are the largest members of the cuckoo bird family, Cuculidae. Today, I plan to focus primarily on the most well-known roadrunner species: the great roadrunner.

This is a picture I took of a roadrunner in front of an auto repair shop near where we live.
The Cuculidae family consists of many types of birds, but it was named for the common cuckoo that lives in Europe. Here are a few species of birds in this family below:

Common cuckoo
Guira guira
Channel-billed Cuckoo
Blue coua
As you can see, there is great variety within the cuckoo family. However, both genetic evidence and the Bible tell us that God created different kinds (likely referring to the “family” in modern classification methods, rather than “species” or “genus”) of birds on Day 5 of the Creation week, 6,000 years ago. (At the moment though, we don't know whether or not God's Day 5 creations included ground-dwelling birds as well as flying ones or if ground-dwelling birds were created on Day 6, with other land animals; some evidence seems to suggest some flying birds changed into ground birds over time through natural selection processes (not evolution). But this topic is beyond the scope of this article.) Inside the original created member of the cuckoo family, was all the genetic information for other species within this kind of bird, including the roadrunner. Sometime after the Genesis Flood, the cuckoo family diversified into various species “according to its own kind” (Genesis 1:21); one of these species settled in the southwestern United States and became the greater roadrunner.

Roadrunners live in dry, arid habitats.
This bird grows only 9-11 inches in height and up to two feet long and weighs 7.8-19 oz, so it isn't very big. I was able to see a roadrunner several times when it passed in front of where my Dad works. It might have been the same one every time. Other characteristics of the roadrunner include a bushy crest of feathers on top of its head, a thick darkly-colored beak, a long tail and four toes on each foot, two pointing forwards and two pointing backwards. Take a moment to observe the beautiful coloration of the roadrunner: it's mostly colored in brown with black streaks and the occasional pink spots. The underside is colored white. This perfectly enables this bird to blend into its habitat.

As seen in the Roadrunner cartoons, roadrunners actually do live in deserts. They mainly can be found in the southwestern deserts, open country and scrub lands of the United States, but they also live in northern Mexico and have even been spotted as far east as Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana and Missouri.

Roadrunners are fierce predators, eating anything from insects, as seen above, to snakes and everything in between!
The goofy appearance of the greater roadrunner is rather deceptive, God created these animals as fast and efficient predators (after the Fall of Man occurred, of course). They have wings and can fly, but they prefer to run after prey, using their long tails for balance and maneuverability. These birds regularly eat insects, like wasps, and other arthropods – like centipedes, spiders, scorpion, and millipedes – small rodents, eggs, carrion, reptiles and they'll also eat fruit. Roadrunners are able to kill larger prey by making devastating blows to the base of the small prey's neck or by beating its prey against a rock. They will sometimes leap into the air to catch smaller birds and flying insects and pairs of roadrunners have also been spotted teaming up to take on a relatively large snake, including the infamous rattlesnake!

Roadrunners are beautifully designed for desert life.
The fact that roadrunner's are predators, doesn't mean that they don't sometimes become prey for other creatures. Common predators of roadrunners are animals like hawks, skunks, raccoons and, yes you guessed it, the coyote. This is a major reason why roadrunners have speed on their side; able to run 15-26 mph, they're going to give both prey and predator a run for their money. However, unlike the cartoon, real coyotes can run faster than a roadrunner, so the bird must rely on agility rather than pure speed in order to escape.

Roadrunners can run 15-20 mph to escape predators and chase prey.
Another interesting fact about roadrunners is that they appear to mate for life. During courtship, a roadrunner will often give its mate a present, such as a twig or a piece of grass. When it's time to reproduce, the birds make a nest of twigs and lay 3-6 white or pale-yellow-colored eggs. The male and female both help incubate, care for, and protect the young before and after hatching. After about 18-21 days after leaving the hatching, roadrunner chicks leave their nests and join their parents in the open, where they will continue to be fed for an additional 30-40 days.

Roadrunners are a common source of food for coyotes.
So there you have it, the skinny on one of the most iconic and interesting of American birds. Roadrunners may or may not live near you, but there are loads of other species that do. What do they eat? Where do they live? Do they fly or mainly walk? Go outside into God's creation and see what amazing flying creations you can find!
Roadrunners are just one of the amazingly designed birds God has created!
Disclaimer: Many (or in some cases all) of the photographs and images above are not mine. If you own one or more of them and would like them to be removed, politely let me know via one or both of the email addresses above.

No comments:

Post a Comment