This is another bird that I have been looking forward to having a chance to photograph. I knew the Greater Roadrunner was native to the Dallas/Fort Worth Area, but it has been many years since I’ve last seen one.
I don’t know much about the habits of these birds. It looks to me as if they may find a place that they like and then restrict their activities to the immediate vicinity. Their home range may be very limited.
I say that because we found this individual several weeks ago in Combine, Texas. We missed our opportunity for pictures at that time, but when we made a return visit this past weekend the roadrunner was there again in almost the exact same spot! We were a little better prepared this time!
Wikipdeia describes the Greater Roadrunner in this way:
The Greater Roadrunner, taxonomically classified as Geococcyx californianus, meaning “Californian Earth-cuckoo,” is a long-legged bird in the cuckoo family, Cuculidae. Along with the Lesser Roadrunner, it is one of two species in the roadrunner genus Geococcyx. This roadrunner is also known as the chaparral cock, ground cuckoo, and snake killer.
The Greater Roadrunner nests on a platform of sticks low in a cactus or a bush and lays 3–6 eggs, which hatch in 20 days. The chicks fledge in another 18 days. Pairs may occasionally rear a second brood.
Greater Roadrunners measure 61 cm (2.00 ft) in length, about half of which is tail. They have long, wobbly legs and a slender, pointed bill. The upper body is mostly brown with black streaks and sometimes pink spots. The neck and upper breast are white or pale brown with dark brown streaks, and the belly is white. A crest of brown feathers sticks up on the head, and a bare patch of orange and blue skin lies behind each eye; the blue is replaced by white in adult males (except the blue adjacent to the eye), and the orange (to the rear) is often hidden by feathers.
This bird walks around rapidly, running down prey. It mainly feeds on insects, fruit and seeds with the addition of small reptiles, small rodents, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, small birds, their eggs, and carrion, including roadkills. It kills larger prey with a blow from the beak—hitting the base of the neck of small mammals—or by holding it in the beak and beating it against a rock. Two roadrunners sometimes attack a relatively big snake cooperatively.
Although capable of weak flight, it spends most of its time on the ground, and can run at speeds of up to 20 mph (32 km/h). Cases where roadrunners have run as fast as 26 mph (42 km/h) have been reported. This is the fastest running speed ever clocked for a flying bird, although it is not as fast as the flightless Ostrich.