Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bird of the Week

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Photo Credit: Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons
This one goes out to my aunt and cousin who live in New Mexico.  I was lucky enough to see one while visiting them a little while back.  No other bird is synonyms with desert life like a Roadrunner though they do live in other habitats like grasslands.  What an amazing bird to thrive in such a harsh habitat.

The Greater Roadrunner is a large member of the Cuckoo family who adapted a special skill of running and foraging on the ground rather than flying.  They can fly but not very well.  They eat mostly meat.  The Roadrunner hunts reptiles, small mammals, insects, centipedes, scorpions and, other birds.  The Greater Roadrunner will even take on the poisonous rattlesnakes and peck them repeatedly in the head till they die.  The Roadrunner bashes larger prey against rocks to make them easier to swallow.

 Ironically, the Greater Roadrunner nest in trees, bushes and cactus off the ground sometimes up to ten feet tall or higher.  This is probably why they still have the ability to fly.  Roadrunners mate for life and are known for their elaborate courtship rituals every mating season.

Fun Facts about the Greater Roadrunner 

-The Roadrunner was made famous by the Looney Tunes cartoon.  It first appeared in 1949.

-Though Willy E. Coyote is much slower than the Roadrunner in the cartoons, in real life a coyote is twice as fast as a Roadrunner and is a dangerous predator for them.    

-Roadrunner has adapted to their dry habitat by secreting salt out of a gland in front of their eyes.  This process uses less water than secreting through the kidneys and urinary tract.  

Have you seen a Greater Roadrunner or have any stories about them?  Tell us about it in the comments or on the Facebook page.  Thanks for reading and happy birding!

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