Roadrunners inhabit the deserts of the southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America. Public Domain photo
Exploring Nature: Roadrunners
A friend recently reported thievery by a bird; a greater roadrunner ate the cat food in an outdoor feeding dish.
Roadrunners will do things like that. They are bold birds, one of the only species that will fight – and defeat – an angry rattlesnake.
A member of the cuckoo family, the greater roadrunner is found mostly in the U.S. and Mexico, often in desert country. There is also a lesser roadrunner which hangs out in Central America.
Weighing about 10 ounces and with a head-to-tail length of about 24 inches, the greater roadrunner eats about anything, including seeds, insects and bits of prickly pear cactus. It has glands above the eyes which secrete excess salt from its blood.
Also known as chaparrals or paisanos, roadrunners enjoy perching on high locations to take sunbaths. They can sprint up to 15 miles per hour and will fly if under duress. They build their nests from sticks, leaves and even snakeskins.
The state bird of New Mexico, the roadrunner is a favorite of old cartoons, often being chased by a hapless coyote and going “beep-beep.” In real life, the bird usually utters a dovelike series of coos or makes a clattering sound with its beak.
The female can produce up to two clutches of eggs each year. If you want to attract roadrunners, just put out a dish of cat food. At least, it worked for that friend of mine.