Friday, August 4, 2017

Cartoon Roadrunner vs. Real Roadrunner

Let's talk about the Road Runner. He was my favorite cartoon when I was a kid for sure, beating out even the antics of beloved proto-troll, Bugs Bunny. But as you age, you put away childish things, and now I probably prefer real road runners. This is a bird that's been on by bird-bucket list (birdcket list(TM)) for a while now, and on my recent Texas trip I finally got to see him, and in abundance. So I was thinking, just how does the Road Runner cartoon compare to the genuine article.

Long, prominent tail
Dark crest
Darker wing than belly

Not really predominantly purple/blue
Wrong number of toes
Beak shape wrong
Neck too long


Runs quickly, favoring roads (up to 15 miles per hour)
Doesn't really fly (flight is possible, but brief)
Lives in the Southwestern American Desert (per Chuck Jones)

Can outrun a coyote (they can get up to a whopping 43 miles per hour)
Would be hunted by coyote (coyote are voracious hunters and scavengers, but one of the few things that live in their range that they don't eat are Road Runners. Not worth the effort?)
Call is just extremely wrong

So how do we put this all together? Ultimately, I'm going to give him a passing grade because I think this cartoon succeeds in depicting a caricature of a roadrunner for the most part. The important part is that he is recognizable as his real-world inspiration, but just barely. The color is the real tricky part- it's just not a color these birds have (except in a small spot behind the eye). Most damningly, no other Looney Tune has a color scheme this unrealistic. Rabbits can be grey, ducks black, pigs pink, coyotes brown, etc. I guess what I'm saying is he's no Beaky Buzzard

Realism Score: C-

Also, have a profile, cause why not 

Greater Roadrunner aka. Chaparral Bird, aka. Chaparral Cock, aka. Ground Cuckoo aka. Snake Killer
Big Bend Ranch State Park, Presidio, Texas, USA
July 2017
Member of the Cuckoo Family
§A Race of Roadrunners§
Excellent State Bird of New Mexico

~real bird legend~ Road Runners have a special place in the belief systems of many Native North and Central American peoples. They are considered to be courageous, strong, and fast, perhaps because of their habit of taking on fearsome venomous prey like rattlesnakes, scorpions, and horned lizards. The X shaped mark their feet make (2 toes in front, 2 in back), is thought to ward off evil and has been used as a sacred symbol by the Pueblo tribes. The footprint disguises the direction you're going in, keeping evil spirits from following.

Adventurous, tends to rush in
Equally at ease by himself and around big groups. Either way he ends up talking a lot
Maybe should be a little more careful, seems to walk around like he's invincible
Sleeps well at night

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