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Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus


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Greater Roadrunner
credit: dmallen321/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Cuculidae, Cuckoos, Roadrunners, Anis view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mainly brown plumage, palest and least marked on belly; feathers on rest of body have pale, buff margins or are adorned with buff streaks and spots, creating rather mottled appearance overall. Crest is bushy and erectile. Tail is long, mainly dark brown with pale tips to feathers. JUVENILE Similar to adult.

Dimensions Length: 24" (61 cm)

Habitat Scarce resident of deserts with light scrub.

Observation Tips Seen mainly by chance, e.g. crossing a desert track or road. Often sunbathes in early morning hours, sometimes allowing prolonged views from afar.

Range Texas, Plains, Southeast, California, Rocky Mountains, Southwest

Voice "Song" is a descending series of dovelike cooing notes. Utters bill-snapping sounds in alarm.

Discussion Unmistakable ground-dwelling desert bird that runs swiftly from danger or when chasing prey. Powerful bill is used to good effect in catching and killing lizards, insects, and small mammals. In flight (seldom observed), pale primary bases appear as white crescent. Sexes are similar.