I spent a month in Arizona with my Grandpa during the summer of 1950. Grandpa lived in Safford but had a farm in San Simon (San See-moan). The first time he took me to the farm, we were getting ready to spend the night. Grandpa told me that if I heard a pecking noise on the window at dawn not to worry about it. He said “it’s just the roadrunner.” This got my interest real fast because I was already a fan of the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons. Grandpa went on to explain that one night he had thrown out some table scraps for whatever birds or critters might show up. Later, he was sitting outside enjoying the coolness of the evening when a roadrunner appeared and began pecking at the scraps. Grandpa knew that they mostly eat snakes and small animals but the next day, when he was in town, he bought some mixed grain and corn. He normally woke up about dawn so he got in the habit of going out in the yard early and tossing out a handful of feed. The roadrunner seemed to like the handouts and could be seen in the yard every morning. One morning, Grandpa slept in. He was awakened by a pecking noise at the window and looked up to see the roadrunner sitting on the window ledge and doing the pecking. Grandpa got up and took a handful of feed and tossed it out into the yard. After that, if Grandpa didn’t get the feed out there early enough, the roadrunner would be pecking at the window.
I’ve always found it interesting to watch creatures as they process information, develop habits, and commit things to memory. Food is the driving force in their lives and obtaining it, the obsession. Grandpa’s roadrunner had learned that if there was a man at the house he would be getting something to eat. If the man doesn’t show up at the pre-determined time, dawn, he can go peck on the window and get the man out there with some food. He’s going to keep an eye out for this guy and when he shows up he’ll be at the house every day at dawn because it’s easier than scrounging for the morning meal.
August 3, 2014