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