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Greater Roadrunner

ID Info
Silhouette CuckoosCuckoos
Greater RoadrunnerGeococcyx californianus
  • ORDER: Cuculiformes
  • FAMILY: Cuculidae

Basic Description

A bird born to run, the Greater Roadrunner can outrace a human, kill a rattlesnake, and thrive in the harsh landscapes of the Desert Southwest. Roadrunners reach two feet from sturdy bill to white tail tip, with a bushy blue-black crest and mottled plumage that blends well with dusty shrubs. As they run, they hold their lean frames nearly parallel to the ground and rudder with their long tails. They have recently extended their range eastward into Missouri and Louisiana.

More ID Info
image of range map for Greater Roadrunner
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

The best way to find Greater Roadrunners is to travel along quiet roads in open country, particularly arid grasslands and low deserts. Seeing one is usually a surprise, as the bird darts out of shrub cover or across a road—so keep your eyes peeled. Roadsides often teem with roadrunner prey lizards and snakes basking in the open or mice and birds drawn to seed-bearing plants. On the edges of its range, the Greater Roadrunner can be quite scarce and very hard to find. Listen for their dovelike, low-pitched, cooing, which they usually give from an elevated perch.

Other Names

  • Correcaminos Grande (Spanish)
  • Grand Géocoucou (French)
  • Cool Facts