Roadrunner – State Bird of New Mexico
Image Courtesy fws.gov (public domain)
Description: The Greater Roadrunner is one of the most recognizable birds of the desert. It is actually the largest member of the cuckoo family. Measuring about 20 inches in length, the ground-dwelling Roadrunner is mostly brown with heavy white streaks. Its breast and underparts are whitish and it has a conspicuous, shaggy crest. The Roadrunner has bare, blue skin around its eyes and a small patch of red feathers in back of the blue skin. It has a long bill and extremely long legs, which propel it to speeds of 18 miles per hour. Males and females are similar.
Diet: The Roadrunner is an opportunistic feeder. Its diet includes lizards, snakes, large insects, scorpions, eggs, mice, small birds, and carrion. It catches its prey with its sharp bill and beats on the ground or against a rock. It will even capture birds at bird feeders and nest boxes.
Range: The range of the Roadrunner has recently expanded. It breeds and winters throughout southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, northern and central Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and into western Louisiana and Arkansas.
Habitat: The Roadrunner prefers semi-arid grasslands with shrubs and brush.
Nesting: Female Roadrunners lay 2-6 eggs in a thorny nest lined with snakeskin, leaves, grass, and other materials. it is usually positioned in a cactus, bush, or small tree.
Status: The Roadrunner is common and stable.