Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

A member of the cuckoo family, the long legged Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is an icon of the desert southwest in part to the artistic efforts of Warner Brothers and their animated series featuring “Wile E Coyote”. Road runners are aptly named and may reach a top speed of 26 mph on the ground. Anyone who attempts to stalk them will note their speed and agility as they effortlessly out distance the stalker.

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)
Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

The road runner is a larger bird than one might realize and typically is between 20 and 24 inches in length. The bird is typically between 10 and 12 inches in height and boasts a wing span on 17 to 24 inches. The upper body is a shade of brown with black streaks and may feature pink spots. This pattern helps break up the outline of the bird and helps provide camouflage. The lower body is commonly white or ran in appearance. The head features a prominent crest of brown features.

Despite the branding and name, the greater roadrunner is capable of flight, although it spends most of its time on the ground. This animal can be found at most elevations between -200 and 7500 feet and favors semi arid scrubland with scattered low lying vegetation. The bird spends its time hunting and stalking its prey. Once sighted prey is quickly run down by the fast legs of this peditor. Common prey items include spiders, insects, scorpions, mice, small birds and lizards and even rattlesnakes.

The greater roadrunner typically forms long pair bonds with its mate. Typically, clutches of 3 – 6 eggs are laid in the spring months. The nests of this bird are commonly found in low brush and cactus and are built by the male. Common with other cuckoos, the roadrunner are known to lay eggs in the nests of other birds, such as the raven.

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Pronghorn ( Antilocapra americana )

A solitary Pronghorn ( Antilocapra americana ) found near Golbin Valley, Utah
A solitary Pronghorn ( Antilocapra americana ) found near Golbin Valley, Utah

Commonly known as an antelope, the Pronghorn ( Antilocapra americana ) is an even toed or hoofed mammal found in the plains of the western United States of America. The Pronghorn in america is mislabeled as an antelope, which is an old world or African species of Antelope. The Latin name, Antilocapra americana means “American goat-antelope”

The Pronghorn lives in brush and grass lands and deserts and survive by grazing on the vegetation. They typically live in herds which may number in the hundreds depending on time of year and food sources.

They have excellent eye sight use this valuable resource to keep a distance from predators in the wide open habitats they are found. They are also the fastest animal in the western hemisphere and can run at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. The result is a reclusive animals that tends to run when it sees any threat, which means these animals can be difficult to get near. Typically, when I see them in the field, it is their white hind quarters travelling at a high rate of speed away from me.

Males typically stand between 51 and 59 inches in height and weigh between 88 and 143 pounds. The female are about the same height, however, more slight at 75 to 106 pounds. Their coloring is quite distinctive and features large white patches on the rumps, belly and heads with black bands on the face and necks. They boast large eyes located towards the tops of their skulls which have a field of view of 320 degrees. This feature allows the animals to maintain distance and allows them to spot predators while resting in the tall grass.

Cougers, Coyotes, Wolfs and Bob Cats are known to prey on the pronghorn. Additionally, they were a valuable food source for many Native American tribes including the Assiniboine, Rapid and Blackfoot Tribes.

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Classification

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Artiodactyla
Family:Antilocapridae
Subfamily:Antilocaprinae
Tribe:Antilocaprini
Genus:Antilocapra
Ord, 1818
Species:A. americana[

Desert Marigolds (Baileya multiradiata)

Desert Marigolds located off the Old Mojave Road.
Desert Marigolds photographed near the Old Mojave Road.

Desert Marigolds (Baileya multiradiata) are an abundant and well distributed flower across the desert south west. The name Marigolds are derived from the name “Mary’s Gold” which is to honor Mary, the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

As with all members of the Asteraceae family, the Desert Marigold is characterize with individual florets which are arranged so that each flower groups appears to be a single flower. The bright yellow flowers of this annual growing plant will first appear in bloom in early March. The planet may bloom several more times upon subsequent rains brought in my the desert monsoons and thunderstorms.

It is not uncommon to view the Desert Marigold display until November depending upon the conditions.  A wildly distributed flower, the Desert marigold can be found growing in sandy or gravelly soils. It is quote common to fine them along roadsides, washes, and plains. The elevations they may be found at range from 100 to 6500 feet above sea level and may be found from California, Arizona and Nevada to Texas.

The Desert Marigold can typically survive about two years and it can be poisonous to livestock.

This yellow wild flower is also known as:

  • Desert Marigold
  • Showy Desert Marigold
  • Paper Daisy
  • Desert Baileya