Bird of the Week: Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) - The coolest state bird ever

The roadrunner - AKA The Most Greatest State Bird Ever


I bet you didn’t know that New Mexico has the coolest state bird of any other state. Why? Because it eats rattlesnakes for lunch.


The Roadrunner is one of the few predators of rattlesnakes and will kill them in an amazing show of agility, speed, and vicious resolve. The bird in the video kills the rattlesnake by bashing the snake's head against the ground, but they will also kill them by pecking through the back of its head. Either way is a rough end for the snake. If the snake is too large to eat all at once, it will simply go on with the snake hanging out of its bill, swallowing a little more as it digests inside its stomach.

The roadrunner is carnivorous and will pretty much eat anything it can catch, like small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, centipedes, scorpions, birds, carrion (freshly dead animal), and eggs. They make their home in the Southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico and you can see them in open desert country or darting around the edges of the rough at a golf course. Living in the desert is tough, but the roadrunner is well adapted to life here with special glands in the front of their eyes which allows them to excrete salts and conserve water.

Roadrunners are fast, they can reach speeds of up to 28 mph. But unlike the cartoons, the coyote is usually faster and are predators of roadrunners. If you see roadrunner tracks, you will notice that their X-shaped feet make it impossible to tell which direction a roadrunner went. Which is why many Native American tribes revere the roadrunner as a deterrent to evil spirits since evil spirits could not follow its tracks.


Special thanks to Seth Hall for his bird expertise.

For more info and the roadrunner's vocalizations, check out:


Credits:  Geococcyx californianus CC BY-SA 3.0

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