Greater Roadrunner

ANIMAL:
Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus

Type of Animal:
Cuckoo

Habitat:
Desert, brush/brushland, grassland, desert scrub, semi-open/open scrubland from below sea level to nearly 10,000 ft, canyons, chaparral, arid lowland areas dominated by creosote, mesquite, and/or tamarisk, scrubby woodland, scrub forest, riparian woodland, pinyon-juniper areas/woodland, loblolly pine forest, upland hardwood stands, red juniper landscapes, suburban/urban areas, farmland, woodland/forest edges, limestone hills w/ scattered junipers, agricultural areas, open woodland, mountainous woodland, mountainous shrubland, parks

Location(s):
S California, S Nevada, far SW Utah, extreme SE Colorado, W & S Arizona, S & E New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, far S Kansas, SW Missouri, W Arkansas, W Louisiana, N Mexico

Appearance:
Brown upper body w/ black streaks, white/pale brown upper breast w/ dark brown streaks, white belly, brown crest on head, bare patch of orange & blue skin behind eye w/ males also having white, long white-tipped tail, sturdy bill, mottled plumage

Food/Diet:
Small mammals, reptiles (including rattlesnakes), insects, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, birds, eggs, fruit (especially prickly pear cactus), seeds, frogs, toads, carrion, snails, millipedes, wood, bark, stems. Sometimes snakes take roadrunners in fights to death.

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos

Lifestyle:
Monogamous pairs or solitary

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Pair
 
Weight:
Male: 11.29 oz
Female: 10.23 oz
 
Gestation:
3 weeks 

Life Span:
7-8 years

Height:
Male: 1 ft
Female: 0.9 ft

Body Length:
Male: 1.77 ft
Female: 1.7 ft

Tail Length:
8 in

Main predators are coyotes, raccoons, hawks, eagles, owls, falcons, cats, bobcats, skunks, dogs, pigs, bears, bullsnakes, rattlesnakes, & rat snakes (engages in fights to death w/ last 3 w/ whoever dies 1st being eaten-snakes more often take young)
 
State bird of New Mexico.
 
Also called Chaparral Bird, Chaparral Cock, Ground Cuckoo, & Snake Killer (due to habit of eating snakes).
 
Chicks stay w/ parents for 1.5-2 months.
 
Females lay 3-10 eggs & sometimes produce 2 clutches in a year.
 
Often batter live prey to ground to subdue it.
 
Tend to be very skittish, running at slightest hint of danger.
 
Since they don’t migrate, they conserve energy by lowering body temps.

Fun Fact(s):
Many American Indian tribes honor roadrunners, considering birds to be good luck as well as symbols of strength/courage/speed/endurance.
 
Though capable of flight, they much prefer running over flying & can run up to 20 mph.
 
Puebloan peoples believe roadrunners ward off dangerous spirits & scratch X-shaped symbols designed to look like bird’s tracks into earth around dead bodies. Feathers also placed over cradles to protect babies inside.
 
Very famous due to Looney Tunes duo of Wile E. Coyote & the Road Runner-Coyotes & roadrunners are both fast & coyotes prey on roadrunners. Coyotes twice as fast as roadrunners.

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