Sunday, December 20, 2015

Prances with Coyotes

     A scene unfolded in my friend’s yard in New Mexico of comic proportions. A roadrunner scampered around eating grasshoppers oblivious to a coyote lurking nearby. I was torn. Observe and photograph what was about to unfold or rush outside and chase the coyote away. The roadrunner turned his back ignoring the coyote, then surprisingly jumped through the fence closer to harm. The coyote crept up looking this way and that pretending not to notice the bird. I zoomed in on the slow motion action. 

     A poor, innocent creature was about to be eaten and by hesitating I had done nothing to prevent it. The roadrunner flicked its long tail and casually raised a witless topknot as if inviting the inevitable. Run, run like hell now! The coyote looking hungry and determined took another careful step forward. The bird unbelievably turned its back again.  
     Any minute flying feathers and gnashing teeth would turn an iconic southwest fowl into Thanksgiving dinner for a cunning scavenger. Dammit. 

      The coyote stood frozen staring intently, then took one quick step. It happened so fast I didn’t see it. My camera was focused beyond the fence and the scene with the bird was mercifully blurred. I really didn’t want to watch. 


      Then the coyote stopped and looked up. Nothing had happened. I refocused and found the roadrunner merrily perched on top of a nearby fence post. It had jumped straight up, an impossible leap in my mind, but those spring-loaded legs propelled it upward out of harm’s way revealing a sneaky, well planned foil. A crazy little happy dance on the fence post ensued. The coyote sauntered over and glared up at the roadrunner before jumping through the fence and trotting off through the scrubby weeds.

    The roadrunner struck a pose for victory. Then to my surprise it jumped to the ground and took off after its predator. Surviving wasn’t enough, the torment had to be repeated. I watched the roadrunner leap onto another fence post when the coyote got too close and laughed out loud. I had been wrought with concern for the poor bird only moments before and now felt sorry for the frustrated coyote. This was no ordinary bird. With amazing timing and bravado the little jerk outwitted the coyote time and again. 

     I have to admit that I had not connected the seriously obvious dots until my friend said, “Beep Beep”. Right, of course, I missed that. Who’s the superior species now? Native to the Americas coyotes have been around for at least one hundred and twenty thousand years. Roadrunners, I swear. Taunting coyotes is clearly a time honored pastime.   


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