May 19, 2010 10:11 am · 87 comments

Yesterday, a fellow CLAYCORDIAN took this picture of a bird on his fence, and wants some help to identify it.

Can anybody out there tell us if it’s a roadrunner? It sure looks like one, but we’re not 100% positive.

You can click on the photo for a much larger view.

1 DougC May 19, 2010 at 10:13 AM

Looks like a woodpecker to me.

2 jtkatec May 19, 2010 at 10:14 AM

I think that might be a kingfisher, but can’t tell how big.

3 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 10:16 AM

its a roadrunner

4 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 10:20 AM

It’s a Road Runner – Meep! Meep!

5 Ahh Dubonn May 19, 2010 at 10:21 AM

It’s a freckled long necked contra costa fencerunner.

6 anonymous May 19, 2010 at 10:23 AM

If it’s a road runner, where is its anvil???

7 Buck Million May 19, 2010 at 10:24 AM

About the roadrunner:
The legendary Roadrunner is famous for its distinctive appearance, its ability to eat rattlesnakes and its preference for scooting across the American deserts, as popularized in Warner Bros. cartoons.

The Roadrunner is a large, black-and-white, mottled ground bird with a distinctive head crest. It has strong feet, a long, white-tipped tail and an oversized bill.

It ranges in length from 20 to 24 inches from the tip of its tail to the end of its beak. It is a member of the Cuckoo Family (Cuculidae), characterized by feet with 2 forward toes and 2 behind.

When the Roadrunner senses danger or is traveling downhill, it flies, revealing short, rounded wings with a white crescent. But it cannot keep its large body airborne for more than a few seconds, and so prefers walking or running (up to 17 miles per hour) usually with a clownish gait.


The Roadrunner makes a series of 6 to 8, low, dovelike coos dropping in pitch, as well as a clattering sound by rolling mandibles together.


The Roadrunner has a long, graduated tail carried at an upward angle.


The Roadrunner has long stout legs.


The Roadrunner is uniquely suited to a desert environment by a number of physiological and behavioral adaptations

Its carnivorous habits offer it a large supply of very moist food
It reabsorbs water from its feces before excretion
A nasal gland eliminates excess salt, instead of using the urinary tract like most birds
It reduces its activity 50% during the heat of midday
Its extreme quickness allows it to snatch a humming bird or dragonfly from midair.


The Roadrunner inhabits open, flat or rolling terrain with scattered cover of dry brush, chaparral or other desert scrub.

Food & Hunting

The Roadrunner feeds almost exclusively on other animals, including insects, scorpions, lizards, snakes, rodents and other birds. Up to 10 % of its winter diet may consist of plant material due to the scarcity of desert animals at that time of the year.

Because of its lightening quickness, the Roadrunner is one of the few animals that preys upon rattlesnakes. Using its wings like a matador’s cape, it snaps up a coiled rattlesnake by the tail, cracks it like a whip and repeatedly slams its head against the ground till dead.

It then swallows its prey whole, but is often unable to swallow the entire length at one time. This does not stop the Roadrunner from its normal routine. It will continue to meander about with the snake dangling from its mouth, consuming another inch or two as the snake slowly digests.

8 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 10:26 AM

My vote is also woodpecker

9 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Looks like a woodpecker to me too.

10 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 10:27 AM

looks like a roadrunner to me

11 Cheryl May 19, 2010 at 10:27 AM

It’s a roadrunner… did you happen to see a coyote chasing it?

12 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Sure looks like a roadrunner

13 Buck Million May 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Geography – Range

Throughout the Mojave, Sonoran, Chihuahuan and southern Great Basin deserts They in all the Southwestern states.

14 2BITS May 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM


15 jtkatec May 19, 2010 at 10:31 AM

I would agree with roadrunner, but they are not in this area, I believe.

Roadrunners would be down in the desert…. oh, no, maybe it’s global warming and this bird is the first sign of the migration of the Mohave…..

16 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 10:31 AM

road runner!

17 anonymous May 19, 2010 at 10:32 AM

its a RoadRunner!

18 Buck Million May 19, 2010 at 10:36 AM


When spring arrives, the male Roadrunner, in addition to acquiring food for himself, offers choice morsels to a female as an inducement to mating. He usually dances around her while she begs for food, then gives her the morsel after breeding briefly.

If it was arrogance they wanted for the cartoon, they picked the right bird!

19 Rochelle aka Superwoman May 19, 2010 at 10:39 AM

Definitely looks like a road runner… is a picture of one

20 Michelle May 19, 2010 at 10:48 AM

hahaha Cheryl. Good one

21 Wendy May 19, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Well, you have plenty of support for the correct ID, but I’ll just throw in my two cents. I am a professional wildlife biologist and it is indeed and unmistakeably a roadrunner. If your friend wouldn’t mind sharing the date and location of the photo, I have a colleague keeping a roadrunner database who could use that info for science. It would be especially interesting if it were local!

22 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 10:56 AM


23 Wendy May 19, 2010 at 10:58 AM

PS They are known from the southwestern states, but also occur in southern California and the Central Valley and they can occur in drier parts of the coast range. I just saw a roadrunner roadkill on Corral Hollow Road last week, near Livermore.

24 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 11:06 AM


25 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Definitely a roadrunner.

26 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 11:24 AM

It’s a redwood fence.

27 Larrabee May 19, 2010 at 11:25 AM

I hope it has a permit to be on that roof!

28 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 11:31 AM

The profile picture is that of a Road Runner (Geococcyx californianus).
Absolutely beautiful and marvelous bird, as described above. Where was the picture taken? We do have a varied micro climate and region, in the Bay Area. Mt. Diablo has lots of snakes, and so far in Pleasant Hill, the alligator lizards are popping up on the trail, my driveway, and the back yard! Plenty of food for the Road Runner. I have also seen much increased birding: Hummingbirds, Downy Woodpecker,Barn Swallow,Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Robin, Mockingbird,Crow, Starling, California Towhee,Sparrows, and tons of House Finch. We also have Ducks walking down the street!

29 Brian Wales May 19, 2010 at 11:45 AM

About 2 years ago, i was at work in the little town of Madison CA. 505 and highway 16 I worked in a rock quarry that was directly next to cache creek. And to my surprise while sitting in my car having lunch one day two road runners came from the direction of the creek bed towards my car. I know exactly what i saw too cause i used to live in AZ and would see them all the time. So they do venture out of the desert. But! our rock quarry along with the summer time dried up cache creek was pretty desert like.

30 Huskerfan May 19, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Looks like a King Fisher!!!

31 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 11:51 AM

#24: The Open Carry crowd vs a RoadRunner? I think we all know how that would play out. Would be fun to watch though.

32 Well isn't that just stellar? May 19, 2010 at 12:04 PM

We saw our first Stellar Jay ever last week. Gorgeous he was.

33 Sylvia Lundy May 19, 2010 at 12:20 PM

My husband, a 79-year-old outdoorsman and hunter, exclaimed without hesitation, “It’s a ROADRUNNER!!!” He added that he has never seen one in the Concord area……which would take us back to 1960. Great photo! Should we award the Claycordian Photo of the Week Prize to this one? Do we even have a photo contest? Poor Mr. Mayor, the more you stretch to please us, the more we whine, huh?

34 Phil May 19, 2010 at 12:26 PM

I’ve seen roadrunners on the road in the hills near Lompoc. They don’t confine themselves to the desert.

35 ACC May 19, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Whatever it is, it is VERY cute and the picture is great.

36 2busymom May 19, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Anon 10:23, you need to brush up on your cartoon watching! It was the coyote who had the anvil, not the roadrunner.

37 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 12:46 PM

100% wood pecker. 100% sure.

38 anonymous May 19, 2010 at 12:47 PM

it’s a rattle snake! Kill it!

39 Mountain Man May 19, 2010 at 12:53 PM

You city slickers crack me up. First its snow on Mt. Diablo and now a bird that is common in the southwestern US. Is there anything that doesn’t get you guys all a’twitter? ITS A BIRD, might be good eating, but other than that should be ignored.

40 GJ May 19, 2010 at 1:16 PM

the image is not good enough to identify. It’s too small for a road runner, wrong shape for a wood pecker. Who knows what other critters fly around in our neighborhood that fit this silhouette?

41 Katherine Houghtby May 19, 2010 at 1:19 PM

looks like a prehistoric bird/kind of reptilian!

42 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 1:29 PM

I can’t really tell from the photo. But that would explain all the empty “ACME” boxes I have been seeing all over concord lately.

43 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 1:42 PM

I vote for road runner. And I have to say that many years ago, as I was driving back from Los Angeles via Highway 5, I saw a road runner in a field. Then about a mile down the road there was a coyote in another field. Kind of made me laugh a little bit…

44 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Roadrunner – no doubt about it.

45 Nikki P May 19, 2010 at 1:52 PM

Looks like a Road Runner…Wish there was more detail and color but it could also be a Stellar Jay. hmmmmmm Where was the picture taken?

46 GailV May 19, 2010 at 1:53 PM

After reading what Buck Million presented, I don’t see how it could be a road runner…it would be way out of its regular domain for one and that can make any animal really vulnerable to the elements and predators. I’d have to go with woodpecker, yet, it would be helpful if the picture was a little clearer for me. Thanks for challenging us all to think about it though, what fun!

47 Tom May 19, 2010 at 1:55 PM

Definitely a Roadrunner. I saw one off of Pleasant Hill Road last week, and was VERY surprised.

My parents live in Rancho Mirage (Palm Springs area) and we see them quite a bit down there.

48 She's a lovely bird, isn't she? May 19, 2010 at 1:59 PM


49 Seth Adams of Save Mount Diablo May 19, 2010 at 2:04 PM

100% roadrunner. I photographed one on March 13 at the western edge of Brentwood. I’ve also seen them a couple of times on Mt. Diablo, including on our Viera-North Peak property, but they’re very uncommon and we’re at the very edge of their range.

50 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Definitely a roadrunner!

51 Pillhillmom May 19, 2010 at 2:10 PM

It’s a woodpecker. I have a family of them who hang out on the big tree in my back yard. I will take a photo and submit it… then the debate will end.

52 Nikki P May 19, 2010 at 2:15 PM

I asked my sis who goes on vacation just to look at birds and she said Road Runner. Although rare to the East Bay, I believe anything is possible now a days. I just found an Asian Long horned Beetle in my house last week. WTF? Go figure!!!

53 ACC May 19, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Could it be the “dodo” bird?

54 jtkatec May 19, 2010 at 2:35 PM

38, it’s not a rattlesnake, it’s a corn snake. Can’t you tell by the corn cob for the tail?

55 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 2:50 PM

I would say that this is a roadrunner, not a woodpecker based on the bird’s tail. While the photo does resemble the pileated woodpecker, the tail is too short. Compare the photos of the woodpecker and roadrunner:



**Also, it looks a little too thin to be a Steller’s Jay:'s_Jay

56 WTF May 19, 2010 at 2:52 PM

Kingsnake !

57 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 2:55 PM

It’s a roadrunner.

58 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Global warming. Yup, that’s it. Call Al, he’ll confirm.

59 Katherine May 19, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Whatever it is, it had better stay away from the Concord Naval Weapons Station for the next month. All of that heavy equipment removing/trimming (destroying) the trees will certainly kill it along with all of the other wildlife in it’s way.

60 Revan May 19, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Roadrunner. Look at that tail and compare it to Superwomans pic. Woodpecker? No, that tails probably for stability when running, not for flight. Woodpeckers don’t have tails like that, they’re shorter and wider (flight surfaces).

61 Atticus Thraxx May 19, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Mockingbird with a mohawk?

62 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 4:19 PM

It’s a raodrunner! What’s he doing looking for an Olive Garden!

63 2BITS May 19, 2010 at 4:32 PM

There is a Blue Jay outside of my office window right now with the exact same silhouette. I still say Woodpecker though.
(Hey grammar police. Did I spell silhouette correctly?)

64 Anon May 19, 2010 at 4:33 PM

TOTALLY a roadrunner!

65 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 5:00 PM

I saw a roadrunner a few years ago along the road between Williams and East Park reservoir (north of Clear Lake.) It was my four year old son who id’ed first – it was the only bird species he knew.

66 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 5:03 PM

It is delicious in curry sauce.

67 Dave from Concord May 19, 2010 at 5:06 PM

It is a Blue Jay ! Not a Blue Bird ! They come out at night and make a terrible racket with all of their so called singing.

68 Cowellian May 19, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Beep! Beep!

69 Ornerythologist May 19, 2010 at 5:44 PM

We don’t have blue birds or blue jays around here. We have stellar jays and scrub jays.

70 Sheri May 19, 2010 at 6:07 PM

I also seen this bird in Concord yesterday it was in the Turtlecreek area resting on a fence in the park.

71 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 6:50 PM

beep beep

72 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 7:08 PM

That is a roadrunner! One of the most amazing birds I have ever seen. My gosh! How did it get here?

73 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 7:17 PM

The roadrunner is on TOP of an Olive Garden . . .

74 Anon May 19, 2010 at 7:18 PM

The roadrunner is on TOP of an Olive Garden . . .

75 thighs of glory May 19, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Came for the Corn Snake. Left satisfied.

76 Anonymous May 19, 2010 at 7:35 PM

The photo was taken on 4/23 of this year late in the afternoon. on the Western edge of Brentwood. I took about 12 photos, while climbing one 6 foot fence chasing after it in my neighbors yard. It stood at least 13 inches tall, and scooted along quickly on the ground. I thought it was a roadrunner myself, but had never heard of them being in this area. This photo was by far the best, with the most detail, if it wasnt for that darn sun.

Rather be fishin

77 jamie May 19, 2010 at 7:56 PM


78 We have a ringer in our midst. May 19, 2010 at 8:03 PM

Brentwood is not within the City Limits. LOL

79 Thomas May 19, 2010 at 8:08 PM

Road Runner! I use to see them when I was making deliveries headed to Mt. Hamilton and no one would believe me! I never got on on film! Glad that someone did!

80 ML Parr May 19, 2010 at 9:07 PM

Definitely a road runner, but very strange to see one here. This one got off track some how.

81 anon May 19, 2010 at 9:33 PM

well, it wasn’t wearing a black hoodie and pecking at car tires…

82 CDK May 20, 2010 at 7:18 AM

It’s a woodpecker on steroids!

83 minutemom May 20, 2010 at 11:35 AM

I’ve never seen a woodpecker with those kinds of tailfeathers. Wrong shape to be a kingfisher. I used to live in Albuquerque and it sure looks like the roadrunners I used to see there – anybody ask the Lindsay Museum gang?

84 Wiley Coyote May 20, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Wendy, our resident professional Biologist already said hands-down it’s a Roadrunner. So it is.

The sad part is that it’s an undocumented alien Roadrunner— it’s not a Claycord Resident. Get the TNT and anvil ready.

85 dtravers May 20, 2010 at 1:50 PM

It could be a belted kingfisher.

What colors did it have? What sounds did it make? Was it near water?

If a roadrunner its a little outside its range. (added by Mobile using Mippin)

86 starman May 20, 2010 at 3:35 PM

that is a young roadrunner correct
about 2 years old

87 desert dweller May 20, 2010 at 11:04 PM

Made me smile to see that roadrunner. I used to line in Palm Springs and worked in Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells and loved seeing the roadrunners. When I worked at a local county club the chef had a “pet” roadrunner that used to wait for him to bring out raw meatballs for it. Funniest thing to see the two of them interact.

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