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Greater Roadrunner

About Greater Roadrunner

Magpie-sized bird with longish, heavy, hooked bill and prominent, spiky crest on head; longish, sturdy legs; short, rounded wings; long, graduated tail. Upperparts dark brownish with broze sheen with pale buff-edges to feathers giving mottled appearance; buff-spotted, blackish crest; wings have a white crescent on the primary flight feathers; tail tipped with white; underparts and neck whitish with dark brown streaks; legs are gray, bill black, eyes brown, ringed with yellow; patch of bare skin behind eye, white and orange in male, blue and orange in female.

The Greater Roadrunner breeds from late February through October, depending on their location. It makes a nest of twigs lined with grass, leaves, roots, feathers, and debris, in a bush, cactus or low tree. The female lays 2-6 white eggs with a chalky cream covering that are incubated mostly by the male for 17-19 days.

The Greater Roadrunner is the larger of two unusual species of ground dwelling cuckoos. Made famous by the cartoon character, the real roadrunner can run up to 18 miles per hour (29km/h).

The Greater Roadrunner is one of the few animals that will attack a rattlesnake. To kill this snake, the roadrunner grabs the snake just behind the head, then it hits it against the ground or rocks. Roadrunners live in pairs, defending their area all year.