Greater Roadrunner

Geococcyx californianus

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The greater roadrunner is a long-legged bird in the cuckoo family, Cuculidae. It is one of two roadrunner species in the genus Geococcyx; the other is the lesser roadrunner. The roadrunner is also known as the chaparral cock, ground cuckoo, and snake killer.

The name roadrunner comes from the bird’s habit of racing down roads in front of moving vehicles and then darting to safety in the brush. Roadrunner habitat is usually desert scrub of the southwestern United States. They typically build their nest in low growing brush or cactus.

The greater roadrunner is the largest North American cuckoo. The adult has a bushy crest and long thick dark bill. It has a long dark tail, a dark head and back, and is blue on the front of the neck. It has four toes on each foot; two face forward and two face backward.

Conservation Status: ? … Not listed.  Although the roadrunner has no protected status, plans are in place to protect many desert scrub habitats that it frequents and in which it nests.

Did you Know?
Roadrunner prey on mice, small mammals, and other lizards, but their diet also includes snakes including rattlesnakes.

Anglo frontier people believed roadrunners led lost people to trails.