Tuesday, February 7, 2012

RGV Tracks and Signs - Roadrunner Anvils, Chihuahua Woods Preserve

Where Rabdotus land snails are abundant, their shells litter the ground. These snails are eaten by a number of animals, not just Hook-billed Kites. Greater Roadrunners eat a lot of land snails, but have the difficulty of getting through the shell and into the meet of the snail. If they can find an anvil to beat the snail against they can easily get into the shell. Where rocks are hard to come by, the pile of shells around the few available rocks may be substantial.
Where rocks aren't available, the roadrunners will use what's available, including in this example an old bottle. Anything hard will do. This bottle has been left for the roadrunners use until it can be replaced with a rock.
The shells left behind by the Greater Roadrunner's pounding are fragmented. A Hook-billed Kite feeding on the snails leaves a distinctive notch in the shell of the snail, near the operculum. Shells may remain on the ground for years. The snails estivate in times of drought so live snails may be hard to find, but empty shells may litter the ground.