– Scientific Classification –
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Cuculiformes
- Family: Cuculidae
- Subfamily: Neomorphinae
- Genus: Geococcyx
The roadrunner, also known as a chaparral bird or chaparral cock, is a speedy little bird that can be found in southwestern US and Mexico. The genus Geococcyx has 2 species, the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx caliornianus) and the Lesser Roadrunner (Geococcyx velox). Like other members of the cuckoo family, they have zygodactyl feet (two toes in front, two in back). While roadrunners can fly,
they prefer sprinting (up to 20 mph) but will fly to escape predators. Roadrunners have a “coo” call, like a dove, as well as a chattering call. Despite living in such an arid climate, roadrunners are non-migratory birds. Roadrunners are opportunistic omnivores, but the Lesser Roadrunner eats mainly insects. Because of their speed, they are one of few animals that will take on a rattlesnake as prey.
As you can see in the video, they have a knack for smashing prey on the ground. The tarantula hawk wasp‘s only real predator is a member of Geococcyx. In the desert climate, roadrunners enter a slight torpor at night and sun themselves in the morning by exposing dark skin patches. These birds either live in solitary or in pairs. They form monogamous pairs that may mate for life. This pairing is more than likely to support the bi-parental care of the 2-6 egg clutch. The eggs hatch asynchronously meaning the chicks that come out first probably have the best chance of survival. One or two weeks after hatching, one parents is always at the nest. When the chicks are 2-3 weeks old, they leave the nest but still forage with their parents for a few days.
And just because I have to…
- Daily Bird: June 15 (invisiblewoman.typepad.com)
- Greater Roadrunner with prey (bobzeller.wordpress.com)