Flying Only When Necessary

Interior of a moving van + JetBlue landing at Las Vegas (photos from Wikimedia Commons)

7 December 2021

In Case You Missed It.

Greater roadrunner, running (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) normally runs 15 mph to capture prey or faster in short spurts. He can’t fly well, just extended-wing glides, so walking takes him everywhere he wants to go. Around humans he can be so curious that he gets into trouble.

Last month while a family was packing a moving van in Las Vegas, a curious roadrunner walked into the van when they weren’t watching. The doors closed, the trip began, and the roadrunner was trapped inside for four days. He was discovered when they unpacked the van in Westbrook, a suburb of Portland, Maine.

The roadrunner traveled by land from Las Vegas to Portland, Maine (map from Wikimedia Commons, alterd)

Volunteers transported the roadrunner to Avian Haven in Freedom, Maine (another hour and a half drive) where he got expert care. Avian Haven tells his story here:

The roadrunner recovered so well that nine days later he boarded a direct flight from Boston to Las Vegas and was released in his old neighborhood by Nevada Department of Wildlife. The video shows his release in real time, then repeats in slow motion. I think he ran out of the carrier faster than 15 mph.

Though roadrunners prefer to travel on the ground, 6.5 hours in an airplane sure beats four days in a moving van. As the Audubon Guide to North American Birds explains:

The roadrunner walks and runs on the ground, flying only when necessary.

p.s. See news about the roadrunner at News3LV: His discovery in Maine: Roadrunner, going-faster, ends up in Maine after hitchhike, His Nevada neighborhood: Roadrunner Road Trip takes accidental cross country trip to Maine , His return: Roadrunner arrives home in Las Vegas after stowaway trip to Maine.

(Roadrunner news embedded from Facebook, map and photos from Wikimedia Commons. The first three photos are NOT from the actual event.)

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