By Chuck Woodbury
I feel sorry for you if you live in the East and never get a chance to spend time in the West, in the deserts specifically. You never get to see a very special bird — a roadrunner — except in the cartoons, where one Wile E. Coyote is always getting blasted, bombed, slammed, crushed or otherwise brutalized by Road Runner, also known as Beep Beep.
Look far below for the rules that Beep Beep’s creator, Chuck Jones, had for the bird’s behavior on the screen.
Those of you who live in the West, who spend a lot of time in the desert, see real roadrunners every once in awhile, and it’s always a treat. I was once lucky enough to have one of these cute fellows hop onto my picnic table in Joshua Tree National Park, where he started up a conversation with me. He opened and closed his beak repeatedly, resulting in a clapping sound. He stared at me and, of course, I knew exactly what he wanted: “Food, Mister. I am here for food.” I told him I did not feed wild animals, and so he left fairly quickly.
Through the years I have come upon a few dozen roadrunners. They are most often brief encounters as the birds speed by on their way to somewhere else. Flat out, a roadrunner can hit about 20 miles per hour.
But, alas, my disappointment
I never cared to live in Texas, but at this very moment I am slightly tempted. If I did, I could order my very own roadrunner license plate. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is asking residents to vote by June 21 for their favorite of three designs (one is at the top of the page) for a new Greater Roadrunner license plate to support wildlife viewing and nature tourism programs.
The TPWD Conservation License Plate Program has raised around $10 million in the last 21 years, providing funding directly to benefit Texas rivers, state parks, big game research and species management. The 10 conservation plate designs include a horned lizard, a largemouth bass, Texas rivers, a hummingbird, a rattlesnake, a white-tailed deer, a bluebonnet, a desert bighorn sheep and a monarch butterfly. These TPWD conservation specialty plates cost $30 per year, with $22 going to TPWD to support various programs and efforts. Plates can be purchased for vehicles, RVs, trailers and motorcycles.
“We try to create license plates that people enjoy and want to buy while also knowing their plate fee goes to the worthy cause of helping wildlife, rivers, state parks and now — wildlife watching and nature tourism in Texas,” said Janis Johnson, marketing manager of the Conservation License Plate Program.
Now, cartoonist Chuck Jones’ rules for how Beep Beep’s behavior should be portrayed as a cartoon character.
Here’s a question for you. . .