Sunday, November 29, 2009
The Road Runner
I had always thought the Roadrunner was just a cartoon bird. My surprise! When I moved to Utah there were many running across the road! I saw one the other day riding my scooter.
The Greater Roadrunner is a signature bird of the desert Southwest. During the 20th century, its range expanded all the way to southern Missouri and western Louisiana. A ground-dwelling cuckoo, it feeds on snakes, scorpions, and any other small animal it can catch and subdue.
The roadrunner is about 56 centimetres (22 in) long and weighs about 300 grams (10.5 oz), and is the largest North American cuckoo. The adult has a bushy crest and long thick dark bill. It has a long dark tail, a dark head and back, and is pale on the front of the neck and on the belly. Roadrunners have four toes on each foot; two face forward, and two face backward.
The breeding habitat is desert and shrubby country in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It can be seen in the US states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, and rarely in Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana.
The Greater Roadrunner nests on a platform of sticks low in a cactus or a bush and lays 3-6 eggs which hatch in 20 days. The chicks fledge in another 18 days. Pairs may occasionally rear a second brood.
This bird walks rapidly about, running down prey or occasionally jumping up to catch insects or birds. It mainly feeds on insects, small reptiles, rodents, tarantulas, scorpions and small birds, as well as fruit and seeds.
Although capable of flight, it spends most of its time on the ground, and can run at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).