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An Impressive Catch By A Roadrunner (1 Viewer)

pbgrebe

Member
I’ve always been very impressed with the quickness, agility and hunting skills of greater roadrunners. I recently observed something that left me even more impressed with these skills. As this incident began, two black-chinned hummingbirds were foraging low in flight under the lower branches of a moderate-sized tree. A roadrunner was foraging on the ground nearby (this individual belongs to a pair that is currently rearing two fledglings who left the nest about two weeks ago). The roadrunner caught sight of the hummingbirds, then suddenly darted at them and deftly snatched one of them right out of the air. Clutching the unfortunate hummer securely in its beak, the roadrunner then scampered off and soon disappeared within some bushes where the chicks were hanging out and undoubtedly fed its catch to one of them. I’ve seen roadrunners run down and catch swift whiptail lizards and snatch grasshoppers in flight right out of the air but this was something that was on a whole new level given the fantastic, agile flying skills of hummingbirds!
 

Lisa W

Moderator
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Interesting. I’ve seen them take other birds, finches mainly. But never a hummingbird.
 

NMNative

Member
United States
I’ve always been very impressed with the quickness, agility and hunting skills of greater roadrunners. I recently observed something that left me even more impressed with these skills. As this incident began, two black-chinned hummingbirds were foraging low in flight under the lower branches of a moderate-sized tree. A roadrunner was foraging on the ground nearby (this individual belongs to a pair that is currently rearing two fledglings who left the nest about two weeks ago). The roadrunner caught sight of the hummingbirds, then suddenly darted at them and deftly snatched one of them right out of the air. Clutching the unfortunate hummer securely in its beak, the roadrunner then scampered off and soon disappeared within some bushes where the chicks were hanging out and undoubtedly fed its catch to one of them. I’ve seen roadrunners run down and catch swift whiptail lizards and snatch grasshoppers in flight right out of the air but this was something that was on a whole new level given the fantastic, agile flying skills of hummingbirds!
Hi, fellow Albuquerque resident! We have a family of roadrunners who have claimed our backyard as part of their territory. I've heard of them catching hummingbirds, but haven't seen it...yet. I have seen them snatch young or lazy sparrows from the feeders, though. It's sad, but it's the circle of life. Today I saw a red-shafted Northern flicker at my birdbath! I've been trying to coax those guys out of the treetops since last summer! Thrill of the day for sure!
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
I didn't know woodpeckers will eat birds. It makes sense, I suppose, but wow! Particularly dinosaur-like of them.
 

KC Foggin

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United States
That must have been quite a surprising sight to see it happening right in front of you.
 

NMNative

Member
United States
I didn't know woodpeckers will eat birds. It makes sense, I suppose, but wow! Particularly dinosaur-like of them.
I'm sorry for the confusion...the Roadrunners catch and eat birds (indeed very dinosaur-like), not the Northern Flicker. I apologize for my confusing stream-of-consciousness reply above.
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
Oh, shoot. No confusion whatsoever- I don't know why I wrote woodpecker there! I was picturing a roadrunner. Maybe I was looking at another picture.

I suppose it's not too much of a surprise that roadrunners eat birds- I know they kill and eat venomous snakes.

Come to think of it, don't large woodpeckers sometimes steal nestlings? I wonder if they would ever go after an adult bird, if they were hungry enough. I've seen images of tits that had supposedly killed mice, and were certainly eating mice. And I've seen people claim their chickens killed and ate injured adult birds.
 

NMNative

Member
United States
Oh, shoot. No confusion whatsoever- I don't know why I wrote woodpecker there! I was picturing a roadrunner. Maybe I was looking at another picture.

I suppose it's not too much of a surprise that roadrunners eat birds- I know they kill and eat venomous snakes.

Come to think of it, don't large woodpeckers sometimes steal nestlings? I wonder if they would ever go after an adult bird, if they were hungry enough. I've seen images of tits that had supposedly killed mice, and were certainly eating mice. And I've seen people claim their chickens killed and ate injured adult birds.
After a quick web search, it appears you're right...woodpeckers will eat nestlings, eggs, and small adult birds! I guess just about anything is food in a pinch. There have been complaints in Texas that roadrunners were depleting the quail population by eating lots of quail babies, but it has been shown (via autopsies) that the roadrunner diet is about 75% insects, then lizards/snakes, birds/eggs, and small mammals. A lot of folks don't really like roadrunners because of their bird-eating habits, but thanks to the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, roadrunners are one of many bird species that are protected making it illegal to kill them.
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
Ah, yeah, hunters seem to think that sometimes. "Oh, we can't have predators, they'll eat the things we want to shoot". Never mind that if roadrunners ate enough quail to damage the population, we would probably be out of quail by now.

Unfortunately, the same thing gets applied to gar fish frequently, which do eat some amount of sport fish. Because they live where sport fish are, and they eat fish to survive. People kill gar under the belief that it will get them more sport fish. I'm not sure how well it actually works.

But I do know what happened when all the large predators in North America got killed off. More deer! So many deer that they frequently have population crashes from starvation (from eating all the food) or disease (from high density spreading disease more easily), which is not what we want. Even the people who would rather have more game animals than a healthy ecosystem don't tend to like disease spreading wildly among whatever they want to shoot.

It's almost like ecosystems are generally good at handling themselves, and predator/prey balance, if left to themself.

(For the record, I have nothing against hunters. Only irresponsible people who push for things like overstocking of farm-raised game fish, and no repopulation of extirpated predators. Responsible hunters who would like a healthy ecosystem, and also to sometimes have game meat, are fine by me. Venison is delicious.)
 

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