Roadrunners are always entertaining wherever you find them. Like armadillos, they’re gradually moving northward into Kansas and are not uncommon now along the southern tier of Kansas counties. Some nest here, but they are still scarce enough to be somewhat noteworthy, especially when found in a big open pasture as the one shown here. They usually stay near brush or thickets where they can escape danger. This one was nearly a mile from the nearest tree.
Cold is a limiting factor. Roadrunners consist on a diet of mostly meat and insects, and that gets mighty tricky about late January after major winter freezes. The snakes and lizards are long gone then, and the birds must find larvae and pupae in the grass and duff. They will eat seeds of sumac and prickly pear when desperate, but I’ve seen them walk by corn in bitter, snowy conditions without eating it. They will hunt mice and small rodents during winter as well.
Today, however, was no problem. It was 50 degrees with recent lows in the 20s. Even so, insects are still relatively plentiful, and in just a couple of minutes, this roadrunner found half a dozen insects in the short grass. It was a tolerant bird, letting me drive close and follow it for pictures.
Though roadrunners are relative newcomers to the state, they are here to stay. Watch for them in southern Kansas.