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The Charger Bulletin

Animal Awareness Tip: The Greater Roadrunner

Maideline Sanchez

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I recall during my younger years when I use to watch the Looney Tunes to come across several episodes of The Roadrunner outrunning Wile E. Coyote. Ever since my first encounter of The Roadrunner, I have always wondered how they actually appeared in reality and how fast this mysterious bird could run.  While doing research on The Greater Roadrunner, there were plenty of dissimilarities between the large scale cartoon character and the tiny brown feathered Geococcyx californianus.

The Greater Roadrunner inhabits the southern part of the United States including the southern part of Mexico where the Lesser Roadrunner (a close relative of the Greater Roadrunner) becomes the dominant breed. They have been observed sunbathing in preferred areas such as deserts containing shrubs for hiding and nesting which is why they live in these arid parts of the country. As you may have noticed, the Roadrunner is portrayed as a blue bird with purple wings and a feathered crest that sits on top of his head. As a matter of fact, this omnivorous creature contains dark brown to black feathers which are streaked with white while the neck down to its stomach is heavily colored in white. Also, their beaks and legs are normally blue and their length from head to tail is between 50 to 62cm while their wingspan is 43 to 61cm. Their tails are one of the longest parts of their bodies and it is used for steering when running an average speed of 17miles per hour. While the Greater Roadrunner mostly walks or runs, they are able to remain airborne for a few seconds or fly away when it is necessary.

Mating occurs at different times of the year depending on location but when a male is ready he will perform a sequence of mating behaviors to attract a female. He will first be in pursuit of the female on foot with frequent rests. The male will then tempt the female with food such as a lizard or snake, which is the most important part of the mating ritual. When the female accepts the morsel, they will most likely mate and when they do they remain with each other for life and will produce 2 to 8 eggs at a time.


Did You Know?

The Greater Roadrunner usually engages in brood parasitism which is the act of transferring one of its own eggs in another birds nest. Roadrunner eggs are usually found hatching in a common raven’s or northern mockingbird’s nest.

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The Student News Source of the University of New Haven
Animal Awareness Tip: The Greater Roadrunner