Road runners are long legged birds that belong to Cuckoo family from South Western US and Mexico. As the name says these birds are known for its habit of running along the road. They run up to a speed of 17 miles per hour. These birds belong to ‘Geococcyx’ genus and there are two species in it, Greater Roadrunners and Lesser Roadrunner. They feed mainly on insect and are omnivores. Occasionally they feed on seeds and some fruits. The lesser roadrunners resemble the greater road runners, but are slightly smaller in size.
Fact 1: These are the birds born to run. Their entire body is designed for fast running. They have long legs and very long straight tail which helps them balance themselves when running. They lean forward while running, so as to keep their body parallel to the ground.
Fact 2: These birds are like a combination of cocks and cuckoos. They are terrestrial birds. They rarely leave the ground just like cocks. They prefer walking or running. Running in fact is their strength. They run after their prey and hunt them down. They have an ability to make seven different types of calls. Their general sound is a cooing sound which reminds us that it belongs to the Cuckoo family. Hence, they are like half a Cuckoo and half a Cock. They are also known as ‘Chapparral Cock’.
Fact 3: Roadrunners eliminates excess salt through a pair of glands near their eyes, instead of using the urinary tract. This feature is characteristic for sea birds. Roadrunners have also adapted with the same feature in the dessert and this helps them reduce fluid intake used for the same in other birds or mammals.
Fact 4: Greater Road runners are one of the few birds which have an ability to kill the poisonous rattle snake. Even though these are solo birds, they cooperate with each other when they have to kill a snake. One of the birds distracts the snake and others target the snake’s head with their sharp beak and kill them.
Fact 5: Greater roadrunners are monogamous birds which means they mate with one single partner for the lifetime. Male tries to impress female giving her gifts of dead animals during courtship. Once they mate, they build a nest using twigs, feathers, leaves, snake’s skin and other available materials. They are non-parasitic bird. They do not occupy already built nests. Both the male and female participate in the nest building and incubating the eggs.
Fact 6: Female lays 3 to 6 eggs that will hatch after 20 days of incubation. These may lay 1 to 2 times a year depending on the species. They live up to 7 to 8 years.
Fact 7: Roadrunners have a distinctive ‘X’ shaped footprints. This is because they have four toes, two of which are positioned forward and other two backward.
Fact 8: Roadrunner can be found usually in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, Arizona, and southward into Mexico. It is the state bird of New Mexico. They are quite popular along the ‘Sonoran desert’ because of their swift movements and fast running. Children love to watch them since they have a star role in the very popular cartoon show ‘Roadrunner and Coyote’.
Fact 9: Common predators of these birds are the raccoons, bobcats, hawks, and coyotes.
Fact 10: Roadrunners have an ability to control its body temperature as per its needs. They can lower their body temperature in order to save energy in the colder nights at the desserts. They reheat themselves in the day by exposing the darker patches of skin to sun to gain more heat.