Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) 22 inches long

The Roadrunner is a large (22") bird that prefers running to flying. It inhabits mesquite thickets and brushy areas where it hunts the lizards, small snakes and large insects which form the bulk of its diet. I have personally watched a Roadrunner kill a large desert rat and swallow it whole (it took quite a long while).


The bird is streaky brown and white overall with a long, expressive tail edged in white. Its strong bill is long and heavy with a hooked tip.The bristly topknot can be raised and lowered, and, along with the tail, seems to reflect the bird's whimsical moods. Able to sprint at speeds up to 15 mph for short distances, it will fly only when absolutely necessary. A nest of sticks is generally hidden in cactus, brush or a low tree; the brood consists of 3-6 white eggs which normally hatch in about 20 days. Roadrunner snack time

As a year-round resident of Cochise county, the roadrunner has to cope with chilly, sometimes freezing, nights in the winter. It does this by lowering its body temperature and slowing down all its body functions to conserve heat. When the sun comes up in the morning the bird basks in the returning warmth, uncovering a special built-in heat-exchanger, a patch of dark skin between its wings. This allows it to warm up quickly and resume normal activities.

The Roadrunner easily becomes accustomed to humans and will often make regular appearances at a screen door or on a porch where treats such as a mealworms or bit of liver are offered.

Roadrunners are permanent residents in many rural areas of Cochise county, but in a given area you will rarely see more than one of these birds at a time, probably because they require a fairly large range to supply enough of their selected prey to support their large size.

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