Greater Roadrunner - Geococcyx californianus
The greater roadrunner is a member of the cuckoo family. It is a ground bird that is about two feet in length. It has speckled brown and black feathers on its back and wings and a lighter throat and chest with dark stripes. It has long legs, a very long tail, and yellow eyes. It has a crest on its head and the male has a red and blue patch of skin on the side of its head.
The greater roadrunner can be found in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. It is also found in Mexico.
The female lays 3-6 eggs in a stick nest lined with grass. The nest is usually placed in a low tree, bush, thicket, or cactus 3-15 feet above the ground. Males do most of the incubating, because they keep a normal body temperature at night. The female's body temperature drops at night.
The roadrunner gets its name from its great running ability. When it is startled, it runs instead of flying away. It is a poor flyer but can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. It uses its long tail as a type of rudder to help it keep its balance while running.
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Scott Olmstead