Ever since the dawn of humanity, or at least since Warner Bros introduced their animated Road Runner character in 1948, the magnificent roadrunner has been a symbol of the wide open spaces of the American west. One of the great pleasures of moving to rural Arizona was the opportunity to see roadrunners on a regular, sometimes daily basis.
That pleasure was mitigated somewhat by the vendetta one had against me (roadrunners mate for life, and I had, accidentally and sorrowfully, hit one with my car when she suddenly darted in front of me--my theory is that the one stalking me was her mate). He had a blood-red spot behind one eye that I believe was a badge of honor signifying the taking of at least one human life previously, and he used to try to peck his way through windows when he knew I was on the other side of them.
But he's been gone for a couple of years now, probably having joined his mate in that big desert in the sky, or else relocated by the underground roadrunner mob after taking out some other hapless human.
This year I've been seeing a lot of a large specimen, close to the house, but it wasn't until yesterday that I found out why. I was walking into our bedroom. The door to the master bathroom was open and the bathroom window was open to the outside, and I heard a frenetic clicking noise, the kind of sound that if you hear it while you're driving, you should immediately address it by turning up the stereo until you can no longer hear it. But I wasn't driving, so I knew it was a roadrunner, close by, and engaged in some sort of important activity. I went into the bathroom and looked out the window.
Just outside the window is our pond, and next to the pond a big, thick bush with bright reddish-orange flowers that hummingbirds love. On top of the bush, clicking and working at something just under the upper thicket of leaves, was a roadrunner. He or she didn't pay any attention to me but kept up the racket and the thrashing until finally settling down somewhere under that top layer.
My belief is that there's a nest in the bush, but it's too dense to see inside. But if you spend some time in the bathroom (not the most comfortable room in the house, but pretty nice just the same, with saltillo tile and a beautiful Mexican sink and lots of reclaimed barn wood and a clawfoot tub), as I did this morning after my shower, you can hear someone moving around in there, and if you come around the corner at just the right time, as I did this morning with the dogs, you can spot it swooping down from the bush to the ground.
Here's a picture of the bird from yesterday, just before it got comfortable under the leaves. It was a truly odd sight to see this big thing flailing around, swimming on top of the leaves.