Greater Roadrunners in Texas

Geococcyx californianus

The Greater Roadrunner is an iconic member of southwestern desert communities. Roadrunners are non-migratory in a range that extends from California to southern Missouri and south into central Mexico.

Like most woodpeckers, parrots, toucans and other members of the cuckoo clan, these birds have a zygodactyl foot, with two toes facing forward and two backwards. Traditional Native American culture regards these birds with special importance. The tracks left by the feet of these birds make it difficult to tell which way the bird travelled. These tracks have been used as symbols in sacred drawings.

When watching one of these birds on the hunt, one could imagine a resemblance to a miniature T-Rex on the prowl. They can fly, but spend most of their time on the ground. Running at speeds from 20 to 27 mph, these are fast birds, though despite what the Warner Brothers cartoons would have us believe, is less than half the speed of a real coyote (43 mph).

The birds shown in this gallery were seen at Laguna Atascosa NWR in south Texas. The <Species Gallery> has more images of these birds including some with captured prey in Arizona, New Mexico and California.

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