I should mention that another one of my birding incongruities is that I am usually >reluctant to travel somewhere in hopes of observing a specific species of bird, a so-called
target bird, even though that is an activity that seems to give many other people great pleasure. For me, success in such endeavors is a rarity and I am usually left with feelings of disappointment and thoughts of wasted efforts. However, there are certain birds that possess enough charisma, or at least uniqueness, that I would consider waiving that policy. One of those must be a bird that even non-birders are familiar with, but few have actually seen, the enigmatic Greater Roadrunner.
I have had thoughts of seeing this creature for many years, but have not yet accomplished that task, primarily because I have spent so little time in its home range; the extreme southwest of the USA and northern Mexico. Earlier this year, however, I had high hopes when I was visiting Carlsbad, New Mexico and Rockport, Texas (the latter location specifically to see a Whooping Crane, a quest considered to be such a sure thing at that location, at that time of year, that the rule stated above did not apply,) which are both places where Greater Roadrunners can usually be found.
Failure. Nothing. Not even a ghostly peripheral-vision view of some feathery thing that might possibly be a ground-cuckoo.
Clearly, I had been going about things all wrong. Now that I am back in New Mexico again, and since, in all likelihood, this will be my last chance to make this observation, I decided to take a more proactive approach towards solving this problem.
First, I tried pouring a big pile of birdseed on the road into which I hid a magnet, and which I marked with a sign that said
Free Birdseed! I also attached an even larger magnet to my bike, so that once a hungry Roadrunner had consumed the magnet, we would be attracted to each other, and I would have my observation. However, before that happened, the magnet on my bike pulled me into the path of a speeding truck, which flattened me like a pancake.
Next, I tried attaching a big rocket onto the bike, which would propel me at such a great velocity that even a speedy Roadrunner would not escape my gaze. Unfortunately, when I lit the fuse on the rocket, it did not rush forward, as expected, but instead exploded instantly, which turned me into a charred crisp.
Then I tried what should have been a fool-proof plan. I purchased a bottle of Instant Hole from the ACME Corporation. That viscous, black solution, when poured onto the ground, creates a deep hole where none had been before. If I placed some on a road known to be frequented by Roadrunners, one would certainly fall in, and I could observe it before it had a chance to climb out. Incredibly, just after I set the plan in motion, a big gust of wind blew the hole up into the air and it then landed right in the path that I had been traveling. I fell through the hole, which extended all the way through an overhanging escarpment, and continued rapidly downward, at least one hundred meters, only stopping when I collided with the Earth below, throwing up an immense cloud of dust and making a distinct
After all of that, I was forced to resort to even more extreme measures. I looked at eBird and noticed that for the entire spring, a wild pair of these birds had been nesting in the grounds around the New Mexico Wildlife Center, a rehabilitation facility that was, amazingly, just a short distance from my planned route. All that was required was to walk out the back door there, and within a few seconds, an amazingly cool-looking bird came strolling down the path, on the prowl for lizards. A Greater Roadrunner!!
Within a few more minutes, I had tallied two more life birds as well; a Rufous-Crowned Sparrow...
... and a Curve-Billed Thrasher, which also had a nest nearby.
What a worthwhile visit! The New Mexico Wildlife Center is an excellent facility, well worth a stop when visiting Española, New Mexico.
The moral of the story is: Don’t try to be a Super Genius when being just an Ordinary Genius will accomplish the same goal.