a story about the greater roadrunner.
from The Birds of Texas
by John L. Tveten
Most Texans need no introduction to the roadrunner. It occurs throughout the
Southwest, from Kansas to California, and southward to central Mexico. It resides
year-round in most sections of Texas, but less commonly in the eastern portions
of the state.
slender, long-legged ground cuckoo can be seen dashing across the desert or plains
and may even be encountered in the East Texas piney woods. Capable of sprinting
up to 15 miles an hour, it flies only under duress. When alarmed or curious, it
slowly raises its shaggy crest and long, white-edged tail, uttering a strangely
dovelike series of coo's, or clattering its beak.
The roadrunner eats almost anything that moves--insects, spiders, scorpions,
lizards, rodents and small birds. It is also famous as a snake killer. Legend
has the roadrunner building a fence of cactus pieces around a snake so that it
cannot escape, and while that technique is fictional, the bird's quick agility
lets it capture even highly venomous prey. Darting in to stab a snake's head,
it then grabs the squirming reptile in its powerful beak and thrashes it on the
ground. About 90 percent of its food is animal matter, while fruit and seeds make
up the other 10 percent.
The great roadrunner is so named to distinguish it from a similar species,
the lesser roadrunner, that occurs in portions of Mexico and Central America.
Other regional names include "paisano" and "chaparral cock."
Excerpts from The Birds of Texas by John L. Tveten with permission
from Shearer Publishing, Inc.
More on the Greater Roadrunner
from Reader's Digest "Exploring the Secrets of Nature"
The roadrunner lives in dry, scrubby deserts of the southwest USA, where the
days are hot but the nights are very cold. To conserve body heat at night, the
bird slows down its bodily functions, lowers it temperature and becomes lethargic.
But when dawn breaks it must warm up quickly and get on the move again. To do
this, it has a built-in heat exchanger, a patch of dark skin on the back between
its wings that helps to absorb the warmth of the weak morning sun. The bird roughs
up its feathers to expose the patch, and then waits for its body to reach normal
| More Bird Facts
The greater roadrunner is a ground dwelling bird and is a member of the cuckoo
family. It is the only roadrunner species that inhabits the United States.
The roadrunner has brown feathers streaked with white, a bushy crest, a long
bill and a very long tail. Its wings are short and rounded.
Roadrunners have two toes that point forward and two that point back.
The roadrunner makes its nest out of sticks and lines it with grasses and
leaves. The nest is hidden in a cactus, shrubby bush or low tree.
The female roadrunner lays 3 to 6 white eggs, which hatch into chicks in 20
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Scientific Names for Roadrunners and Related Species