Making room for roadrunners
PRESCOTT VALLEY - Two weeks ago, Marty Owens was walking on her treadmill in the garage when a roadrunner hopped on her car. "The garage door was closed at the time and here was this bird investigating the place," she said.
The next thing Owens discovered were twigs all over the place. She began watching with interest as two roadrunners flew back and forth and assembled a nest at the top of her hot water heater.
"All I can think of is that they were looking for warmth," Owens said. "We had some cold evenings and they settled next to the hot water pipe on the heater up about seven feet."
Now there are three hen-sized off-white eggs in the nest. "From what I've read, the eggs will hatch in 20 days and the birds will forage for a couple of days, leave the nest in two to three weeks and never come back," Owens said.
"But in some cases they can be very territorial and stay around for one year," she said. "I want to get rid of the nest because I have a lot of birds in my yard. Roadrunners, which are actually members of the cuckoo family, feed off other baby birds and eggs. I don't want them to be here all summer and see any birds get hurt, but that's nature."
Owens said it is the male roadrunner that spends the night on the nest. "As soon as the female returns in the morning, she jumps up and he jumps down," she said. "Once the babies hatch, both will stay and not leave the nest."
In order to accommodate her guests, Owens leaves the garage door open about a foot before dark, closes it for the night and opens it a foot early in the morning. "I've watched them flutter their wings, shaking and stretching," she said. "They prefer to sprint or leap instead of flying."