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Old 08-06-2009, 03:00 PM   #1
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Default Radio Telemetry Used To Track Movement And Habitat Of Roadrunners

Radio Telemetry Used To Track Movement And Habitat Of Roadrunners
ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2009) Wile E. Coyote might not have been able to catch up with the roadrunner on the Saturday morning cartoons, but one Texas AgriLife Research scientist has had no problems.

Radio Telemetry Used To Track Movement And Habitat Of Roadrunners
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Roadrunner behavior is somewhat unique, Ransom said. They are monogamous and likely mate for life. Also, the male helps in all facets of nesting and feeding the young, including incubating the eggs at night.
Nesting activity begins in early April, he said. The nest typically is located in a tree or shrub, about 3-5 feet high, and usually in dense brush not far from an edge, such as a fence line or ranch road.

Such nest placement allows ease of movement to and from the nest, quick escape from predators and open areas to hunt and forage for lizards and snakes that bask in the bare dirt, Ransom said.

Most nests are well hidden and difficult to find, he said. They are generally in the crook of a large single-trunk tree, using the main branch of the trunk for stability.
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"We used nest cameras to document what the parents were feeding their young," he said. "The diet is based solidly on reptiles, especially Texas horned lizards. We have also seen mice, snakes, grasshoppers and a tarantula, and importantly, no birds, particularly bobwhite quail."
Some landowners have expressed concern that roadrunners prey on bobwhite quail, but Ransom said, "I seriously doubt roadrunners prey on very many quail; ecologically, quail are not efficient prey for a generalist and opportunistic predator like roadrunners.
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The aggressive behavior toward intruding birds indicates they are defending territories for some reason usually an important limiting resource such as food or nest site but he said they are not sure yet what the basis of that territory is. "I doubt that its food related, but we will pursue that aspect in the next phase of our study."

"One of the more complex questions we're interested in is vegetation structure and fragmentation effects on survival and reproduction, especially the cascading effects on vegetation structure resulting from brush-control practices," Ransom said. "Landscape effects and fragmentation are a major theme in ecology right now, and rightly so."
Land use affects wildlife behavior through its impact on vegetation structure, he said, adding, "We do know that brush control will cause them to abandon their home ranges and move elsewhere."
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Old 08-07-2009, 12:09 AM   #2
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Question... do you provide follow up for these articles? I'm interested in learning what they discover regarding the aggressive behavior defending territories.
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