Beep, beep. What was a roadrunner doing in Livermore?

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DEAR JOAN: We saw roadrunner at Poppy Ridge Golf Course in Livermore last week. What’s it doing so far north?

Patrick Fowler, Bay Area

DEAR PATRICK: The greater roadrunner is one of my all-time favorite birds. Having grownup in Albuquerque, N.M., I saw a lot of them — the mascot of my junior high was the roadrunner.

Beyond that, I’ve long held an appreciation for the bird that shows unbridled courage, taking on rattlesnakes, swallowing horned lizards and eating a variety of venomous creatures with no ill effect. Contrary to what the cartoons taught us, however, the roadrunner rarely wins a battle against the coyote, but they put up a valiant fight.

When I moved to the Bay Area almost 30 years ago, I thought I’d said goodbye to the roadrunner, but then one day, while trekking through the Delta, I saw a familiar flash of feathers.

The population of roadrunners here isn’t huge, but we are living in part of the greater roadrunner’s California range, which extends from Shasta County south to San Diego County.

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A lot depends on the terrain and space. Roadrunners need a large territory to hunt in, and they prefer chaparral and marshlands. In the 1940s, the population of roadrunners declined sharply because of hunting, but today, loss of habitat is the bigger threat. Development not only pushes roadrunners out the area, it also can splinter their territories, drive away prey and eliminate nesting sites.

The roadrunner is omnivorous, but most of its diet is protein in the form of arthropods, lizards, snakes, rodents, bats, birds, eggs and carrion. Farmers appreciate having them nearby as they eat a lot of grasshoppers.

Pairs are monogamous and both male and female do their share in building nests — the male provides the material, the female does the construction. The female sits on

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

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