Roadrunner facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Roadrunner
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae
Subfamily: Neomorphinae
Genus: Geococcyx
The Greater Roadrunner Walking
Greater roadrunner walking in the Mojave desert, California.
Roadrunnerusarmy31
Greater roadrunner with a lizard
Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) 2
Greater roadrunners often become habituated to the presence of people.

The roadrunner (Geococcyx) is a fast-running bird. The roadrunner is also called the "chaparral bird" and the "chaparral cock".

Species

The roadrunners are a genus of ground cuckoos. The two species of roadrunners are the greater roadrunner and the lesser roadrunner. The greater roadrunner, (Geococcyx californianus) lives in Mexico and the southwestern U.S.A. The lesser roadrunner, (Geococcyx velox) lives in Mexico and Central America.

Description

The roadrunner is a large, slender, black-brown and white streaked ground bird which has an average weight of 8 to 15 ounces, and is about 18 inches (46 cm) to 22 inches (56 cm) from tail to beak. It has long legs, strong feet, and a big dark beak. The roadrunner is terrestrial (lives on land). Even though it can fly, it spends most of its time on the ground. When they fly their wings are short and rounded and have a white crescent on the feathers. Roadrunners and other members of the cuckoo family have zygodactyl feet (two toes on the front and two toes on the back). Roadrunners can run up to the speed of 20 miles per hour (32 km per hour). They fly to escape predators.

Habitat

Roadrunners live in deserts of the southwestern U.S.A, Mexico and Central America.

Diet

Roadrunners are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plants. They eat insects like grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and caterpillars, small reptiles like lizards and snakes, rodents and other small mammals. They also eat tarantulas and other spiders, scorpions, centipedes, snails, small birds and eggs. The plants they eat are fruits and seeds like prickly pear cactus and sumac. Roadrunners search on the ground to find food. They usually run after their prey but also sometimes may leap to catch insects. Because of its fast speed, the roadrunner is one of the few animals that preys upon the rattlesnake. The roadrunner is the only real predator of the tarantula hawk .

Nest and eggs

The nest of roadrunner is made up of mainly sticks and sometimes leaves, and snake skin. A nest usually contains 2-6 eggs which are white colored. Roadrunners have bi-parental care. Both parents take care of the nest and feed the hatchlings, but males take care of the nest at night and females at day. For the first 1 to 2 weeks after the young hatch, one parent always remains at the nest. After the hatchlings are 2 to 3 weeks old they leave and never return to the nest.


Roadrunner Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.