CSERC puts on an annual wildlife photo contest to encourage people to observe and enjoy the natural world around them and to raise awareness about the great diversity of wildlife we are so fortunate to have in this region. Bird photos are among the most popular submissions, and while many of the photos are remarkable for their aesthetic appeal and beauty, occasionally the subject matter and content of the photo is also truly remarkable.
As an avid birder, I was impressed when I received a photo entry of a greater roadrunner, a bird that is on my list but I have yet to see. When I received the entry, I congratulated the photographer on a great bird sighting and was rewarded with an even more interesting tale!
Richard, the photographer who submitted the greater roadrunner photo, was happy to share the story and photographs behind the full encounter he had with this particular roadrunner. While visiting Del Puerto Canyon, with the help of a fellow birder he spotted the elusive greater roadrunner. On this particular day, the greater roadrunner was not alone.
Over the course of a few minutes, the saga unfolded. According to Richard, the squirrel was the instigator when it snuck up behind the roadrunner and attacked!
The two chased one another, and eventually the roadrunner successfully hid until it staged its final attack. While Richard wasn’t able to see the end of the altercation, it was clear that the roadrunner came out as the winner! The squirrel retreated, appearing defeated but without obvious injury.
It is always fascinating to observe such wild interactions between native wildlife, and it always makes me ponder the motives behind that behavior. What conflict could even exist between a squirrel and a roadrunner?
Many species avoid sharing territory, especially when they like to eat the same things. Both roadrunner and ground squirrel will eat bird eggs – were they both trying to raid the same nest?
Or was the ground squirrel trying to raid the nest of the roadrunner? Or was the roadrunner attempting to prey upon the young of the ground squirrel?
I will consider myself lucky if I get to see a roadrunner – and even luckier if I get to fill in the details of this wild and mysterious interaction! Learning about the intricate ways different species interact always reminds me that there are so many interactions happening out in nature that people know very little about. It reminds me to respect and appreciate the importance of all species, whether I can identify the importance of their specific role in the ecosystem or not. Nature is always telling an interesting story – get out there and listen, you are bound to learn something new!
*All photos credit Richard Brown*
- Megan, CSERC blogger