The Greater Roadrunner is a signature bird of the desert
Southwest. During the 20th century, its range expanded all the way to
southern Missouri and western Louisiana. A ground-dwelling cuckoo, it feeds
on snakes, scorpions, and any other small animal it can catch and subdue.
The Greater Roadrunner can reach running speeds of 30 km/hr (18.6
mi/hr). It holds its head and tail flat and parallel to the ground when
running at its top speed.
To warm up after a cold desert night, a roadrunner will turn its back
to the sun, fluff its back feathers, and expose skin along its back. This
skin is black in order to absorb more solar energy.
The Greater Roadrunner eats many venomous prey items, including
scorpions, spiders, and rattlesnakes. Two birds may cooperate to kill a
The Greater Roadrunner is an opportunistic forager. It frequently
captures small birds at bird feeders and nest boxes. One was observed to
leap up from hiding in a dry riverbed and knock down a low-flying
The desert-dwelling roadrunner uses salt glands in front of its eyes to
excrete excess salt from its blood. Such glands are common in ocean-going
birds that can drink seawater. The roadrunner is able to get along without
drinking water if it eats food with high enough water content, but it will
drink readily if water is available.