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We found a roadrunner egg laying in the garden this morning. Unfortunately, she did not lay it in her nest so we moved it for her! They had begun to work on their nest- there were some feathers and pine needles in it. After putting her one egg in the nest, I surrounded it with small twigs, feathers, snakeskins, and grasses. The female roadrunner then promptly went over to the nest and began to rearrange it to her liking. Out flew branches and then she moved some of the feathers and grasses. Then the male came over and also began to help reorganize the nest. She sat down on her egg and the male stood guard on the tree.
I visited later to find that the male was chasing the quail away from their nesting site and then jumping and pulling twigs off a shrub near the nest. Now that the first egg has been laid, the female or male should constantly be incubating the eggs. Every two days, the female could lay one more until there are 3-6 eggs. We will keep an eye on them and keep you updated!
Last year, we acquired a new female roadrunner to be paired with our male in the Desert garden in the Great Southwest building. We were hoping for baby roadrunners one day, but were worried that would never happen with this pair. The reason for that was because the female roadrunner was hand-raised by her keepers and seemed to relate better to people than to her roadrunner friend.
Over the past month, we’ve watched the male roadrunner present her with gifts through a very elaborate process. First, he will pursue her while wagging his tail back and forth and bowing his head towards her. He will offer her gifts of food or nesting materials. The female has not been very receptive of his courtship until this past Monday. We saw the pair mate for the first time, and are now keeping our fingers crossed for some fertile eggs!
The male roadrunner has been attempting to build a nest in one of the trees in the garden with little luck. Today, we helped him out by placing some wire mesh in the tree he likes to catch all his building materials. This way, he has a nice base for the nest. Each day we will give the roadrunners new materials to build their nest with such as feathers, snakeskins, small sticks, grasses and hay. The garden has been buzzing with vocalizations from the roadrunners as they go through this courtship period. You’ll have to stop in and see if you can catch a glimpse of the roadrunners preparing their nest!