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Roadrunner hitches a cross-country ride from Las Vegas to Maine

Posted at 7:01 PM, Nov 16, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — An iconic, fast-running cuckoo bird native to the southwest hitched a ride all the way to a much chillier location in Maine.

The Pointer family packed up their desert life in Centennial Hills and moved across country to cold, wet Maine. What they didn’t prepare for, though, was a desert wildlife stowaway.

"As soon as Brian saw some of the bird poop inside the van, he started hearing noises. Then he quickly looks up and, boom, he’s eye-to-eye with this long-nosed little guy," Gary Pointer recalled.

The roadrunner, who is known to pass through the Centennial Hills neighborhood, found itself in quite the fix. After leaving the 80 degree temperatures of Las Vegas, he took the long journey in the back of a moving van for four days without food. Once he arrived, he was met with more clouds and much cooler conditions.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife says they were surprised the bird survived.

"Probably the biggest thing for us is without water, birds do become dehydrated, even here in the desert," said Douglas Nielsen, public affairs/conservation education supervisor.

Luckily for the bird, the Pointers said their trip to Maine was a rainy one. They figure the roadrunner stayed hydrated by drinking water leaking through the top of their van.

"We saw one spot where he was hanging out where the water was coming down, and that’s where the poop was and stuff. I think he was kind of hanging out around there and that’s basically where I found him," Brian Pointer explained.

The first thing the Pointers did once they found the little bird was call a bunch of wildlife agencies. Finally, they found one that agreed to take in the animal: Avian Haven.

While Avian Haven has never cared for a roadrunner, the center's rehabilitation manager happened to come from Oklahoma, where they have the birds. After a game of tag with the fast bugger, they finally netted the bird and took it back to their facility, where they drained a pool in the pool house to create a warmer environment for the creature. The center has reported that the bird is in good shape and is eating and running around.

Now, there are plans in the works to bring the roadrunner safely home to Nevada.

"One of this first things we had to do was to confirm that it did in fact come from Nevada and couldn’t have come from another state along the route," Nielsen said. "Then, make sure it is healthy and it's not bringing anything back here that it may have picked up along the way. Once all of that is taken care of, one of the things we have to do is make arrangements for it to be brought in. The key is finding a direct flight from that end."

The department of wildlife is working on releasing the bird in an open space relatively near where it hopped on the truck, but not directly in the neighborhood. They stressed that if you encounter wild animals, leave them alone and don’t feed them — you'll be doing more harm than good.