A mockingbird resides in a live oak tree on the east side of the terrace beside the house. For several days I have observed roadrunners coming up to the terrace early in the morning and mid-afternoon to feast on grasshoppers. Occasionally, the roadrunners will scale a separate live oak tree from the mockingbird’s nest only to be thrown back, not by cauldrons of burning drought-oil in Texas, but by the fierce, unrelenting assault of the mockingbird. The trees upon the terrace are mockingbird territory! Beware aliens! The mockingbirds will allow red-headed woodpeckers to pierce bark for a meal, but not the roadrunner.
Yesterday, I took these photos of the tournament. At end of battle, the score was Team Mockingbird 1, Team Roadrunner 0. The roadrunner ran off the terrace and into the mesquite thickets on the Dooley place.
I have had close encounters with both species in rescuing them from death. I unloosed a mockingbird from bird netting several years ago. He bit me and drew blood. And, a year or so ago, I saved a roadrunner from drowning in a water trough. He had fallen in and was unable to fly or climb out. I have no idea if the roadrunners I see are survivors of that event — more than likely not since it was over a year ago.
I do have a field note about each of these birds. I can hear the roadrunner chattering, a noise he makes by rolling mandibles together. He has a voice like a dove, but more often I hear the chatter. The other note is that the mockingbirds like to sing at night in the spring — all night long. I used to hear them as a boy when I slept with the windows open; I barely hear them now with the air conditioner blowing.
Seeking comic relief in all this heat, I look for a coyote to come across the terrace tomorrow, laying a trap for Team Roadrunner. I hear coyotes, but don’t see them. “Beep, beep.”