There is an association of wildlife photographers down here, much maligned among my Mexican birder friends for a variety of reasons, which has proposed a rule that governs which photos they will accept: No wildlife photography should contain any human elements. In other words, no fenceposts, buildings, or telephone wires are allowed.

When I had a wonderfully close encounter last week with a Lesser Roadrunner, it made me wonder about this rule. Is a human element still disallowed if it is the road on which a Roadrunner runs?

At any rate, this encounter was certainly worth sharing. So I will. The Lesser Roadrunner is not like the Greater Roadrunner of the southwestern U.S.; it is more likely to spend time in grassy brush than out in the open. Although I had seen these birds several times before, always in this same area, I had certainly never achieved “the” photo one desires for each species. That made it very sweet when I got this one:

Then my road-running friend gave me another one with a lot more sass:

Wanna see my road-running muscles?

Now check out my cool crest!

Finally this bird got tired of those human elements, and, joined by a friend, or lover, headed for some low trees. One gave me my first look at a Roadrunner undertail, proving that Roadrunners are basically just fast, ground-loving Cuckoos:

The other one wanted to make sure I got a good look at its featherless violet face patch…

…and then the stripes on its back.

One last look at the total package, and they were off.

I rarely dedicate an entire post to just one species, so I’ll throw in a few very colorful Tanagers as a bonus.

A pair of male Western Tanagers, colored up for courtship when it arrives up northUnfortunately for me, they only get this colorful when they are about to leave central Mexico.

A female Hepatic Tanager

And a male Hepatic Tanager, also in his prenuptial finery. This species, however, sticks around to breed. How considerate of it.

Written by Paul Lewis
Paul Lewis moved from California to Mexico 36 years ago. He lived first in Mexicali, and now in the historic city of Morelia (about halfway between Guadalajara and Mexico City), where he and his wife pastor a small church. He is the author of an internationally distributed book in Spanish about family finances and has recorded four albums in Spanish of his own songs. But every Monday, he explores the wonderful habitats and birds found within an hour of his house, in sites which go from 3,000 to 10,000 feet of altitude. These habitats include freshwater wetlands, savannah grasslands, and pine, oak, pine/oak, pine/fir, cloud, and tropical scrub forests.