Roadrunners are large streaked cuckoos that travel on the ground. The New Mexico state bird, the roadrunner is also known as "El Paisano" or "countryman" in Mexico.
Roadrunners have yellow eyes with a powder blue patch of skin around them, a feathery crest, long springy legs and a strange foot with two toes in front and two behind. The track it leaves is an elongated "X". The clattering of its mandibles lets you know that it is in the area. In contrast, its mating call is a series of dove-like coos repeated frequently at intervals of a few seconds.
They can move!
Roadrunners have been clocked at 10 mph on level ground and up to 15 mph when motivated. This speed enables them to catch quick lizards. Roadrunners use their long beak and ability to leap 3 to 6 feet in the air to snag birds and insects in flight.
Not fussy about food
They are not finicky when it comes to what they eat. According to a researcher, a typical menu for a roadrunner might consist of 263 grasshoppers, 73 flying grasshoppers, 17 scorpions, 28 sowbugs, 7 caterpillars, 3 chrysalides, 14 angle worms, 39 moths, 1 butterfly, 14 centipedes, 16 spiders, 2 tarantulas, 3 walking sticks, 3 small toads, 3 frogs, 6 green lizards, 8 small lizards and one mouse. Roadrunners use their beak to smash the life out of their next meal.
The bird's prowess in killing rattlesnakes made it a popular figure in southwestern folklore. Native Americans who lived in the plains believed it was "good medicine" to hang a roadrunner skin over lodge entrances.
Only outrun cars in cartoons
The primary predators of adults are hawks and coyotes. Eggs and nestlings are eaten by snakes and ravens. If the young survive to adulthood, they return the favor and prey on snakes and bird eggs. Unfortunately; man, the automobile and encroaching development are the roadrunner's worst enemies.
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