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Nature

The bird that ran into a cartoon…

The bird that whacks a rattlesnake for breakfast..

Roadrunner
Roadrunner. Photo by timeflies1955 from Pixabay.

Beep Beep isn’t what we say but we are fast!

The greater Roadrunner is the larger relative to the Mexican lesser Roadrunner. The greater roadrunner is found in the USA and prefers environments such as deserts, washes and dry places and often follows hikers. They look like they are really friendly but in fact are looking for an easy meal. People, like large animals send insects scurrying or flying away which is exactly what works for our little friends.

greater roadrunner calling
Roadrunner calling. Photo by skeeze from Pixabay.

Roadrunners like to make long clicking sounds and are armed with a serious beak. the road runner is very fast, able to snatch a dragonfly out of the air or more impressively, outfight a snake. Its technique to do this is to spread its wings and stay just out of range. After a few strike attempts at the bird, the roadrunner has gauged the snakes speed and ability and will bite the snake just behind its head. It then proceeds to beat the snakes head against the ground time and again until the snake has been concussed or is dead.

The roadrunner is one of the few rattlesnake predators and is the only predator of the tarantula hawk wasp.

Roadrunners eat any insects, eggs, scorpions, snakes, small mammals, eggs and birds. They get the moisture they need from their prey and then they get rid of any excess salt from small glands near their eyes.

Roadrunner with a bug
Roadrunner with bug. Photo by skeeze from Pixabay.

The roadrunner is actually related to the cuckoo but doesn’t have the same nesting habits. The road runner makes its own nest pretty much out of anything it can find, such as grass, sticks and even snake skin. The nest is typically 1 to 3 meters (3 to 10 feet) above ground level in a bush, tree or cactus.

They are monogamous, mating for life and lay between 2 and 6 eggs in a clutch. The male incubates the eggs at night and the female in the day and both feed the babies (which are called fledges), with one parent always close to the nest for the first 2 weeks. Around 3 weeks they leave the nest, foraging with the parents for a few days. The parents often have 2 clutches in a season.

Roadrunners are able to drop their body temperatures on very cold nights and there are some theories that the birds actually hibernate in the winter but this is yet a theory.

roadrunner in the shade
Roadrunner having a bite to eat in the shade. Photo by skeeze from Pixabay.

The Hopi and other Pueblo tribes believed that roadrunners were medicine birds and could protect against evil spirits.

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