Spike, the roadrunner


Of course, we should let wildlife remain wild. Failing to do so puts them and us at risk. However, humans are often captivated by a wild creature that shows curiosity and expresses a unique personality. I’ve been observing roadrunners for over 25 years and I’ve never known one like Spike, as I think a few photos will show. Although he isn’t really our pet nor do we want him to be, if you name a creature, feed it, and miss it when it doesn’t show up, someone is a pet. Perhaps we are Spike’s.

DSC09375Roadrunners often expose their backs to the sun for warmth. The feathers there are particularly thin and sparse. However, I’ve never seen the posture Spike assumes in these two photos. (It was late afternoon and over 90 degrees – I doubt he was cold.)



Spike showed up one morning when we were feeding a turtle ground beef. He rattled, which may be a call for food or an expression of curiosity. Mer has learned to imitate him and he comes when she calls. As his surrogate mama, Mer showed him how to find worms in the compost and fed him a grasshopper (I missed that photo op).

When we told a friend at Hawks Aloft that we were feeding Spike ground beef, she said it wasn’t nutritious enough. So, we bought a bag of frozen mice from Hawks Aloft (“chocolate,” ie, brown). Spike figured out what to do immediately – he swung it by the tail and smashed it on the ground repeatedly. Yum, tender.

Spike, the young roadrunnerNote the delicate eyelashes. Keep in mind these are feathers, not hairs.

Like the desert itself, the colors of a roadrunner shift in the light from drab to iridescent green and blue, plus blue and orange eyeshadow.DSC09245

Spike, the young roadrunner

I was a little alarmed when an adult roadrunner showed up and took the burger ball from Spike, but that only happened once. However, Spike had a young friend with him one morning – we called her Alice (after “Spike and Alice,” derived from a card game called Spite and Malice – hat tip to the Mullanys).

See more pictures and videos.

Read an update with new photos (10/02/12)

5 thoughts on “Spike, the roadrunner”

    Roadrunners are pretty close to ‘top predators’ in their eco-systems.
    I have a small colony of about 4 of them which inhabit a big, thick cholla bush in the front yard…

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