So, Who Coos From The Rooftop?

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

So, who coos from the rooftop?

Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove; mine eyes fail with looking upward; O LORD, I am oppressed — undertake for me. 

(Isaiah 38:14)

On Tuesday afternoon, earlier this week, after commuting home from work, I parked my van in front of my house, preparing to enter my home at the end of a tumultuous day.  But, as I walked from the driveway toward my front door, I heard a strange-sounding bird, emitting a repetition of low-moaning-like noises, like a somewhat-sick dove might sound as it tried to “coo” (which is why some doves are called “mourning doves”).  As I looked above, from where the sounds were originating, I saw an odd bird, much bigger than a dove, perched atop the roof of my house – it was a Greater Roadrunner!

Isaiah the prophet knew that doves can make moaning noises, as if mourning. But other birds can make similar noises, too.

ROADRUNNER Gary Stolz / USFWS (public domain) photo credit

After gazing up at the Roadrunner, who ignored me, I went inside and quickly fetched my handiest bird-book, and soon noticed the following information on the book’s page regarding the Greater Roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus):

“Voice: Six to eight low, dove-like coo’s, descending in pitch.”

[Peterson Field Guides, noted below]

[Quoting Roger Tory Peterson, A FIELD GUIDE TO WESTERN BIRDS (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin / PETERSON FIELD GUIDES, 3rd edition, 1990), page 212.]

Bingo! What a perfect description of what I had been hearing near my front door. 

ROADRUNNER / photo credit

Then my imagination got to thinking.  Imagine a rat, or a snake, that hears that cooing on the ground, behind one of the thick bushes.  What if that hungry rat, or snake, wrongly guessed that the low-moaning cooing noises were clues of a nearby mourning dove nest, where tasty dove eggs (or dove hatchlings) might be located?  If any such rat, or snake, made such a mistaken guess —  OOPS!  Its last thought might be that a hungry roadrunner can sound like a dove!

Such a mistake could be fatal, of course, because roadrunners often eat snakes and small rodents, as well as small lizards, etc.

ROADRUNNER with lizard / U.S. Army (public domain) photo credit

Ironically, mourning doves often frequent the bushes next to my house; sometimes they perch atop the rooftop.  That means our roadrunners sometimes “shadow” the meanderings of our mourning doves. 

Someone once said that “curiosity killed the cat” —  well, sometimes curiosity might kill a rat.

Birds Are Wonderful: P, Q, and R !

BIRDS  ARE  WONDERFUL  . . .  P,  Q,  and  R !

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Jesus said: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink . . . Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, . . . your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”   (Matthew 6:25-26)

For ushering in the year of our Lord 2020,  below follows the sixth advance installment of alphabet-illustrating birds of the world, as part of this new series (“Birds Are Wonderful  —  and Some Are a Little Weird*).  The letter P is illustrated by Pinyon Jay, Puffins, and Peafowl.  The letter Q  illustrated by Quail, Quetzal, and Queen Carola’s Parotia.  The letter L illustrated by Rhea, Raven, and Roadrunner.

“P” BIRDS:   Pinyon Jay, Puffins, and Peafowl.



“Q” BIRDS:  Quail, Quetzal, and Queen Carola’s Parotia.


“R” BIRDS:  Rhea, Raven, and Roadrunner.


Birds are truly wonderful — and some, like the Peacock and Quetzal, are exquisitely beautiful, while others, like the rattlesnake-killing Roadrunner, are fascinatingly unusual, if not also odd-looking!  (Stay tuned for more, D.v.)

* Quoting from “Birds Are Wonderful, and Some Are a Little Weird”, (c) AD2019 James J. S. Johnson   [used here by permission].



Dueling with a Diamondback in the Desert: Roadrunner vs. Rattlesnake!


Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Let their table become a snare before them; and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.   (Psalm 69:22)


Sometimes hunting backfires: the hunter becomes the hunted!

Recall how Haman, in the Book of Esther, plotted to persecuted the Jews, to death, during his heyday in the Persian Empire?  The result was the opposite of his diabolical scheme, however – and it was the Jews who deftly ended as victors (over their persecutors), with Haman himself being hanged to death, on the very gallows that he had constructed for hanging his Jewish rival, Mordecai!(1)

Amazingly, the animal kingdom sometimes sees something comparable happen – such as the scrubland showdown that sometimes occurs when a rattlesnake decides to prey upon a roadrunner. For an action-packed documentation of such a do-or-die duel, see the National Geographic video footage (“Roadrunner vs. Rattlesnake”) posted at  (slightly longer than 2 minutes).


Hence, here is a poetic tribute (in limerick format) to the roadrunner, whom God caringly designed to “hold its own”, and then some (!), when dueling with a diamondback in the desert!


(JJSJ’s poetic review of predator-prey turnabout)

A rattlesnake, hunting for prey,

Met Mama Roadrunner that day;

The coiled snake grinned with glee,

But the fowl did not flee —

Thus, a bird, the snake aimed to slay.


The roadrunner brave, the snake brash;

Twin fangs lunged – but no gash!

The bird’s flesh he had missed —

The bird jumped, the snake hissed;

Again, the snake struck in a flash!


Missed again! – the bird jumped aside!

Once again, snake-fangs were denied;

So the shrewd snake re-set,

As the bird watched the threat —

Then a target the roadrunner eyed.


The roadrunner now used her skill,

To bite the snake hard, with her bill!

Between the fangs, she had bit —

Vise-clamped bite! – she won’t quit!

Fangs dangling, the snake couldn’t kill!


Struggle, wiggle, — the trapped snake did strain,

To loose the bird’s grip, but in vain!

The bird’s bite, firm and fierce —

The snake’s fangs, naught could pierce;

The snake’s plight, now dire, with pain!


The bird aims – the snake’s head now bashed

On rocks, the snake’s head, thrashed and smashed.

Hammering the snake’s head,

Till it’s broken and dead —

The snake’s crown is thus cracked and crashed.


This showdown, so furious and fast,

Ends with the rattler breathing his last;

The snake thought he found prey,

But on that fateful day,

‘Twas the snake as roadrunner’s repast!


Of this duel, the moral is clear

(If, your own life, you would hold dear):

A predator, one day,

On the next, may be prey!

And Mama Roadrunner, you’d best fear!


Roadrunners are fast. These chaparral birds live in deserts and xeric scrub (such as sage-dominated scrublands), and in other rural and semi-rural regions of America’s Southwest, feeding on bugs, scorpions, lizards, and snakes.

But can roadrunners survive showdowns with diamondback rattlesnakes? Yes! Although roadrunners are famous for running from danger, they aggressively attack rattlesnakes, face to face—i.e., bill to fangs!  Amazingly, God has so designed the roadrunner that it can speedily aim at the face and fangs of a striking rattle, using its pointed bill to bite (and clamp) onto the rattler’s open mouth, between the upper fangs, rapidly lock-biting the snake in a death-grip. Then the bird repeatedly thrashes and crushes the serpent’s head against rocks—killing the rattlesnake. The victorious roadrunner then eats the dead diamondback!(2)

The arid, torrid wastelands that we call deserts are relatively inhospitable, for most creatures, yet God has providentially fitted some animals to fill desert habitats—such as desert rats, rabbits, roadrunners, and rattlesnakes.(3)

God loves variety!   (For some Bible-based analysis regarding this timeless truth, see “Valuing God’s Variety”, posted at .)

Desert-dwelling creatures — like Roadrunners (or Diamondback Rattlesnakes!)  —  daily demonstrate that fact, for those who have eyes to see.  And sometimes, if you happen to live in the America’s Southwest,  you need not journey all the way out to a desert, to see such God-created marvels as the resilient roadrunner.    (Meep, meep!)



 (1)  Esther 7:10.

(2)  “Roadrunner vs. Rattlesnake”, National Geographic video clip, posted at .

(3)  Many creatures are providentially fitted to fill hot or cold desert (and similar xeric scrub) habitats, e.g., the Sage Grouse, named for its sagebrush-nesting habits and for eating sagebrush buds and leaves. See James A. MacMahon, Deserts (Alfred A. Knopf, 1986), especially page 583 & plate 545. See also, generally, Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, Desert Animals: Physiological Problems of Heat and Water (Dover Publications, 1979), especially pages 204-224 (desert birds) & pages 225-251 (desert reptiles).


Rattlesnake showdown with Roadrunner:  National Geographic video

Roadrunner approaching Rattlesnake: Viral Portal

Roadrunner bites Rattlesnake: Pinterest

Roadrunner biting/smashing Rattler: Viral Portal

Roadrunner thrashing/crushing Rattler’s head: National Geographic video

Roadrunner running in desert: San Diego Union Tribune

Roadrunner eating Rattle:

Roadrunner on patio table:  original source unknown / RockDoveBlog




The Great Roadrunner Race by Emma Foster

Roadrunner at Living Desert Zoo CA by Lee

Greater Roadrunner at Living Desert Zoo CA by Lee

The Great Roadrunner Race

~ by Emma Foster

In the desert far away, there lived a group of roadrunners. Each of the roadrunners lived in a cactus that he had neatly decorated for himself. One of the roadrunners was named Harold, and he was the smallest roadrunner of all.

Every year, all of the roadrunners would gather together and plan when they would have their special race. This was usually in the third month of the year. This race was incredibly important to all the roadrunners because it was the longest race they ran each year.

Harold usually wasn’t allowed to be in the race because he was so small. This year, however, he decided he was going to prove himself.

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) Reinier Munguia

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) Reinier Munguia

When all of the older roadrunners decided on a date for the race, they were sure to tell all of the other roadrunners in their region of the desert. It was a couple of weeks before the race, so Harold decided to start training himself.

Harold ran as fast and as far as he could for two weeks. Every day he would go a little farther and a little faster. Finally, Harold was sure he was ready for the race, but he still didn’t know if he would win because he had seen the other roadrunners run, and they all had longer legs.

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) by Daves BirdingPix

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) by Daves BirdingPix

On the day of the race, all of the roadrunners gathered around to watch the race. Most of the roadrunners disapproved of Harold being in the race because of his size and how small he was, but Harold still took his place at the starting line. Each of the roadrunners were given a number to wear during the race. One of the roadrunners stood to the side and blew a whistle.

Harold started running as fast as he could. He was actually surprised to see that he was passing other roadrunners. One of the fastest roadrunners was still ahead of him. They were both reaching the halfway point of the race. All of the roadrunners on the sidelines were cheering them on.

Harold was steadily gaining on the other roadrunner. He was getting tired, but he wasn’t about to give up.

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) ©©Nathan Davis Bing

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) ©©Nathan Davis Bing

The finish line was approaching. In a few minutes Harold and the opposing roadrunner would cross the finish line.

Harold ran as fast as he could. He pushed himself harder as they neared the finish line. The other roadrunner began to pass behind him. The finish line was getting closer. Everyone was cheering. Harold crossed the finish line and all of the roadrunners gathered around to congratulate him.

From that year on, Harold entered the race every year, and he became one of the fastest roadrunners in the desert as he grew up.

Roadrunner - Looney Tunes ”©WikiC

Roadrunner – Looney Tunes ”©WikiC

The End

Lee’s Addition:

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.(1 Corinthians 9:24 KJV)

Emma, that is another fantastic story. I was cheering for Harold all the way.

Sorry, but I couldn’t help but put that cartoon roadrunner in. That is one of the benefits of being the editor.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (2 Timothy 4:7 KJV)


See more of Emma’s delightful stories


Kids, You Are Special


Birds of the Bible – Cuckoo III

Crested Coua (Coua cristata) by Lee LPZ

Crested Coua (Coua cristata) by Lee Lowry Park Zoo

And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, (Leviticus 11:16 KJV)

What an interesting Family to which the Cuckoo belongs. Having posted Ian’s Bird of the Week – Little Bronze Cuckoo yesterday, I worked on the Cuckoo – Cuculidae Family to find some more photos. There are a few missing photos, but some of them are of endangered or rarely seen birds. There are some interesting species and some beautiful one also. The Coua genus have the most beautiful eyes. They remind me of the Egyptian Eyes on statues and paintings. We get to see the Crested Coua every time we go over to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. We have to photograph through the mesh, but this one of my better attempts. (See Above) Click through these links and you will see some of the Lord’s Creative Hand at work.

Crested Coua (Coua cristata) by Lee at LowryPkZoo – *LLABS*
Verreaux’s Coua (Coua verreauxi) IBC
Blue Coua (Coua caerulea) ©WikiC
Red-capped Coua (Coua ruficeps) IBC
Red-fronted Coua (Coua reynaudii) IBC
Coquerel’s Coua (Coua coquereli) IBC
Running Coua (Coua cursor) IBC
Giant Coua (Coua gigas) WikiC
Red-breasted Coua (Coua serriana) IBC

Aren’t they amazing? Wow! At least I think they are.

In Birds of the Bible – Cuckoo II it was explained how Leviticus 11:16 and Deuteronomy 14:15 uses Cuckow, Cuckoo, Sea-gull, Sea-hawk in the different versions. I have since added several more Bible Translations to my e-Sword program, so lets see if anything new shows up. The “cuckow” is in the AKJV, “sea gull” in the AMP, the “coockowe” in the Bishops, CJB calls it the “seagull”, Geneva has “seameaw”, the Tyndale calls it a “cocow” and UKJV the “cuckoo.” Seems that it is still split between the same birds. Thus they get to be one of our Birds of the Bible to study.

As mentioned before, it gives us a chance to learn about the many birds that we are blessed with and a reason to concentrate on this family. Notice that both references mention after their kind:

And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, (Deuteronomy 14:15 KJV)

The whole family of the Cuculidae includes not only the Cuckoo, but also the Ani, Roadrunner, Ground, Bronze, Coucal, Coua, Malkoha, Koel, Bronze Cuckoo, Long-tailed Cuckoo, Hawk-Cuckoo, Drongo-Cuckoo, and Lizard Cuckoos. Most in America are familiar with the Roadrunner if by no other way than by Wile E Coyote who is always chasing the Roadrunner in the Looney Tune Cartoons.

Wile E Coyote  - Looney Tunes ”©WikiC

Wile E Coyote – Looney Tunes ”©WikiC

Roadrunner - Looney Tunes ”©WikiC

Roadrunner – Looney Tunes ”©WikiC

Here is a real Roadrunner:

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) by Daves BirdingPix

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) by Daves BirdingPix

Notice the Eyes even on a Roadrunner. Roadrunners are fast-running birds that have  long tails and a crests. The birds are found in southwestern United States and Mexico. They range from 18-22 in. (46-56 cm) from the beak to the tail. Speeds of up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) have been reported. They can fly, but prefer to sprint instead.

More about this family later. Thought you might enjoy seeing some more of our Birds of the Bible that are here to enjoy and be blessed by from the Hand of the Lord.

See also:

Sharing The Gospel


Peterson Field Guide Videos Updated

Below are some of the latest updated Peterson Field Guide Videos. These 2010 versions have been updated on the following pages. The videos are very informative and well done.

American Robin by Dan

Greater Roadrunner



Common Loon

Bald Eagle

Atlantic Puffin

American Robin

Ducks, Geese, Swans