Friday Creature Feature: Greater roadrunner

The greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is a striking and culturally famous bird of the southwest, from classic cartoons to local hockey teams. They are a member of the cuckoo family and is closely related to the lesser roadrunner (Geococcyx velox) that lives in Mexico.

You can find greater roadrunners in deserts, grasslands, and arid scrublands of the west. They are omnivorous, meaning they eat a variety of things. Including; insects, tarantulas, lizards, snakes, mice, seeds, and whatever else they can find. This diet allows the roadrunner to thrive in an environment where food is scarce and hard to find.

The roadrunner hunts on the ground and running food down. They can run up to 15 mph, and this is how it got its name. However, roadrunners do fly and can often be found nesting in shrubs and low trees.

On the IUCN Red List, the greater roadrunner is listed as Least Concern, and its population is stable. However, they are still at risk, the loss of habitat and road mortalities is a threat to the greater roadrunners.

Animal Diversity Web

Audubon Field Guide

IUCN Red List

National Park Service