#398 Greater Roadrunner on the Great Backyard Birdcount

This year my “backyard” is William R. Mason Regional Park in Irvine, so I figured I’d see quite a few different birds than in past, cooler years in Brooklyn. I was certainly right about that. Over five miles and four hours, I tallied 41 species, over 20 of them the first records for Irvine in this year’s GBBC. (I was surprised at how few other reports there were from here. There are so many great parks and wildlife refuges in the area and not a few birders.) I found some great birds including Red-shouldered Hawk, Osprey, Hutton’s Vireo, Spotted Towhee, Cackling Goose, and four warbler species! However, the biggest surprise for me had to be this Greater Roadrunner:

Greater Roadrunner

I was about halfway through the park when I noticed what first looked like a crow half-flying, half-falling out of a tree. It looked a little funny so I put my binoculars on it, and Bam! Life Bird #398! Somehow I didn’t think they were this big. I had thought they were Blue Jay or Robin sized, but it really is as big as a crow. I guess it would have to be for its preferred diet of snakes. The bird ran along the mowed grass and eventually disappeared in some shrubbery before I could get close enough to take a better picture.

I have a vague recollection that I may have seen a roadrunner in New Mexico or Arizona back in the early 90’s before I was seriously birding. However I’m not certain of that, and I haven’t counted it on my life list previously.

Another surprise for the day were four warbler species: Yellow-rumped (very common, over 50, probably over a 100), Townsend’s, Orange-crowned, and Common Yellowthroat (all singletons). In New York at this time of year, you may may get one species, and two if you’ve scouted out a second that’s overwintering at someone’s feeder; but that’s the absolute maximum. Four warblers on February 17 is simply impossible back east. Here it’s a pleasant morning walk in the park.

Total species count for the day was 41:

Swan Goose 1
Cackling Goose 1
Canada Goose 6
Egyptian Goose 2
American Wigeon 5
Mallard 27
Northern Shoveler 3
Ruddy Duck 17
Pied-billed Grebe 2
Eared Grebe 2
Double-crested Cormorant 4
Snowy Egret 1
Turkey Vulture 5
Osprey 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
American Coot 300
Whimbrel 4
Ring-billed Gull 31
Mourning Dove 19
Greater Roadrunner 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 8
Nuttall’s Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 2
Black Phoebe 7
Hutton’s Vireo 1
American Crow 41
Common Raven 2
Bushtit 12
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Western Bluebird 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) 50+
Townsend’s Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Spotted Towhee 2
California Towhee 3
Song Sparrow 7
White-crowned Sparrow 7
House Finch 14
Lesser Goldfinch 5

This list includes two exotics that “don’t count”: the Swan Goose and the Egyptian Geese. These are attractive birds that are often kept as pets in various waterfowl collections and then escape.

Egyptian Geese sleeping

One Response to “#398 Greater Roadrunner on the Great Backyard Birdcount”

  1. Mokka mit Schlag » #400 Cassin’s Kingbird Says:

    […] to see much better; in some cases even photograph. I’m fully confident in counting my recent Greater Roadrunner, for […]

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