Sunday, October 02, 2005

Roadrunner Kills Big Sidewinder

Here is an item from the FRONT PAGE of the April 16, 1938 (Vol. V, No. 47) edition of the Palm Springs Limelight weekly paper. Thank you Jen Robinson, librarian extraordinaire for uncovering this hidden jewel.

     An excited and breathless eyewitness to a rare desert tragedy on Monday was Mrs. Ralph Nesmith, as she stood on the back porch of her hacienda in Palm Canyon Mesa, south of the village. Mrs. Nesmith stepped out to look at the view and wind her alarm clock. Suddenly, from over the wall which surrounds the patio, hurtled a two-foot sidewinder (a member of the rattlesnake family).
     "Flying snakes!!" murmured Mrs. Nesmith as she followed the parabola described by the snake through the air.
     Scene two was a Road Runner (long tailed desert bird) which hopped up on the wall and made a dive for the thrashing snake. The two denizens of the desert jockeyed around for position for a few moments, the snake coiling and striking several times while the road runner adroitly sidestepped the onslaught. Suddenly the road runner got the opening he was waiting for and made a dart at the snake which he caught just back [sic] of the triangular head, where the neck is slender.
     A spellbound witness, Mrs. Nesmith at this moment glanced at the clock in her hand. The road runner shook the deadly head of the sidewinder for five full minutes. Mrs. Nesmith reported a thrashing and whipping around between snake and bird which at times obliterated them both in dust. At the end of five minutes the road runner relinquished his hold and stood back with beak partially open, panting. The snake showed signs of life and the bird again whipped in and renewed the violent shaking, this time only for a minute. Then the road runner stood back and peered at his victim inquiringly.
     When the snake showed no signs of life, the bird cautiously advanced and gingerly lifted the snake in its beak, inching up over the entire body which measured about two feet, twitching and tweeking at it. Satisfied that the snake was dead, the road runner the took the head in its beak and swallowed the entire snake inch by inch until only the rattles stuck out of its beak. These the road runner attempted to knock off - without success, so the rattles also disappeared down the bird's throat.
     It has long been a desert legend that the roadrunner kills rattlers -- but so far as is known here -- this is the first instance of an eye witness to the event.
Returned to the village for the spring season are Mrs. & Mrs. Clarence Beesemeyer.

Opening their hacienda for the first time this season this week are Mrs. and Mrs. Harold Lloyd and family, who will spend the spring season in the desert.

As Jen posted on her Blog:“We wouldn't need televisions if newspapers were still written like this. That is ACTION, people.” We at I’d Rather Be Birding heartily agree.

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