Roadrunner

Roadrunner

Geococcyx californianus

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Quick Facts
Body Length: 10 - 12"
Wild diet: Primarily animals such as insects, gophers, mice, bird eggs, lizards and small snakes; they also eat various fruits, including prickly pears and seeds.
Zoo Diet: Adult mice, baby mice, meal worms, crickets
Distribution: Western and southwestern United States, Mexico
Habitat:
Desert scrub and dry open lands

Although their name implies they spend most of their time running, roadrunners can also fly if the need arises. Their long, sleek body allows them to move quickly, by any means necessary, through their desert habitat. Reaching speeds of up to 17 mph, they can run from animals such as hawks, raccoons, snakes, and of course, coyotes. If needed, they will fly short distances to escape their predators. Roadrunners are equipped both physiologically and behaviorally to survive in a desert environment. At night, to conserve energy, their body temperature is lower. A routine morning activity involves sunning to warm up again. To do so, they expose a patch of skin on their back to capture some of the sun’s heat. This solar panel helps regulate their body temperature.

Description

Roadrunners are large, ground-dwelling members of the cuckoo family. They have a bushy crest, a long beak, and long tail feathers. Although they are capable of some flight, they rarely choose to do so. Their name comes from their ability to quickly run out of the way of cars. They have 4 toes, 2 facing forward and 2 facing backward. Their coloration helps camouflage them in their natural habitat.

Status in the Wild

Roadrunners are not threatened or endangered in the United States, but urbanization and human activity have reduced the availability and quality of their habitat. they are protected by the Migratory Bird Act.

Conservation Programs

Listed as of "least concern" on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).

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