Roadrunner, Elden 10/26/09
26 Oct 2009, 11:23 AM,
Roadrunner, Elden 10/26/09
Well, chalk up a new species for the Spring Trail at the foot of Mount Elden, on 10/26/09...a Greater Roadrunner.

I have noticed a few reports the past few months of people sighting them in the Flagstaff area. This is my first encounter.

Does anyone know if they are becoming more numerous here? Also, what do they do for the winter? Do they migrate south?


Attached Files Image(s)
26 Oct 2009, 11:47 AM,
Hi Gary,
Where exactly did you see the roadrunner?! I have yet to see one around Flag, much less near the spring.

26 Oct 2009, 2:54 PM,
Roadrunners have been seen sporadically in and around Flagstaff for some years - they have been on the Flag/Mt Elden CBC once or twice. It seems they are moving northward (along with other warmer climate birds) during the past couple years. Normally they are seen below the Rim and mostly in southerly locations of AZ.
It's nice to have them around....

26 Oct 2009, 3:11 PM,

It is kind of confusing if you have not been in this area (lot's of side trails), but I will do the best that I can.

Approaching from the trailhead on N. St. Moritz (off Fanning),
there is a fork near the beginning. Either fork will take you to the same place. Walk straight on the trail (passing through a gate) for about 1/4 mile and cross the Pipline. After this, about 25 feet in, you will see an old refrigerator on the ground to the right of the trail. Keep walking for about another 50 feet and I saw it in the small field on the left (before you get to another trail junction, which to the left, takes you to the spring in about a mile. This is the area that I led the hike in, last spring.).

Again, in the 3-4 years that I have birded this area, this is the first Roadrunner that I have ever seen there (and my first one in Flagstaff, period). He headed for the deep cover that lines the outer edges of the field.

Good luck!

26 Oct 2009, 7:38 PM,
Above the Rim on the Colorado Plateau, I've had roadrunners in the following areas:
Walnut Canyon (east side near Winona)

Roadrunners have probably been sparse residents on the Colorado Plateau for a while. Looking in "The Birds of Arizona" (Phillips et al. 1964), they mention that there had been reports of them ranging from the Little Colorado River area near Holbrook to the South Fork of the LCR near Springerville at that time in the '60s and cite a report of a gravid female taken east of St. Johns in 1937. There is no mention in this book or the "Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Arizona" (Monson and Phillips 1981) about roadrunners historically in the Flagstaff area. In the Heber area I've seen them in pinyon-juniper woodlands and ponderosa pine forest, which would be similar to the Mt. Elden and Doney Park areas where they've been seen.

With all of the reports around, I would guess they breed in the pinyon-juniper woodlands and patches of grassland/shrubs on the east end of Flagstaff/Mt. Elden/Doney Park rather than these birds just being wanderers. The Monson and Phillips book and AZ Breeding Bird Atlas both mention that wanderers of this species have been found in higher elevations. I remember a year or two ago someone had one on Hart Prairie (I think they said it was around 8500 ft) and this month someone reported a roadrunner from the Blue Vista along Hwy. 191 (Coronado Hwy. south of Hannagan Meadow) at an elevation of 9200 ft!

Good birding,

27 Oct 2009, 5:39 AM,
Every few years roadrunners show up on the South Rim at elevations up to 7500ft, often in the fall. One year (06?) they were fairly common. I've also heard a credible report of one seen on the North Rim well over 8000ft.

27 Oct 2009, 7:01 AM,
Roadrunners have become remarkably more common on the Navajo Nation in the past 30 years. In the 1970s and early 1980s I would see only one or two a year out there and now it is not uncommon to see one or more in a day in the southwestern portions of the Rez. A couple weeks ago Brian Gatlin and I saw three birds and tracks in two other locations in a single day out there. South of the Rez, in the juniper woodlands between Anderson mesa and Interstate 40, it is now typical to see 1-3 on any given day out in that area. They seem to be distributed along the Little Colorado River and follow the main washes northward into the Black Mesa region. In the fall they seem to disperse widely into other areas including grasslands and juniper and pinyon-juniper woodlands. They seem to be primarily restricted to the Little Colorado drainage basin and therefore are not seen much in the San Juan River basin north and/or east the northern and eastern scarp of Black Mesa such as along Laguna Creek from Marsh Pass eastward through Kayenta and along Chinle Wash. That said there are a handful of records from that area including tracks noted in Canyon De Chelly about 5 years ago. (Eric, where and when did you have your roadrounner at Kayenta?). They have bred at Page and surely breed elsewhere like all along the Little Colorado River Valley) and possibly at Tonalea/Red Lake on Hyw 160. A lot of the roadrunner records are in or near the many extensive tamarisk thickets lining the washes in the region. With the impending demise/reduction of tamarisk at the mandibles of the recently released and spreading tamarisk beetle, it will be interesting to see of roadrunner numbers/observations in these areas decline to their pre-tamariskian levels over the next several decades.
27 Oct 2009, 1:38 PM,
On the AZFO trip last month we (myself, my mother Elaine, John Yerger, Andrew Core, and David Moll) had one at the Kayenta STP on 9/26. I forgot to mention Ganado too, where we had one at the Hubbell Trading Post on 9/27. Here is the link to the posting I put about the highlights from the Rez trip:

Good birding,

11 Nov 2009, 11:26 AM,
Just watched a Greater Roadrunner scurry across my backyard & hang around our waterfall/pond for about half an hour. Finally took a drink before moving on. We see one in Fernwood once or twice a year, usually when it's colder.
4 Dec 2009, 1:32 PM,
Just saw a roadrunner on Elden Lookout Rd, near the Museum of N. Az.
20 Dec 2009, 4:23 PM,
flattened roadrunner
There's a roadrunner on Cedar Avenue (in Flag) in the right eastbound lane after you pass the intersection with Turquoise and before you crest the hill. I was huffing and puffing on my bike, so got a good look at what remained.

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