10 cool things about roadrunners

Most of has seen the animated cartoon strips of the roadrunner outrunning the coyote, but have you ever wondered how fast they are in real life? Here are some of the cool facts about this bird.

1. Fast, faster, fastest

The roadrunner is one of the fastest birds on land who can fly as well – he can reach running speeds of up to 32km/h. Higher speeds of up to 42km/h have also been recorded. These birds are able to fly for short distances, but prefer to stay on the ground. Roadrunners are hard to spot because of the way they camouflage with their surroundings.

2. Pretty patriotic

This avian is mostly found in the drier states of America: New Mexico and California. Roadrunners have a well-known skin pattern next to their eyes – the skin fades from blue to white to red. That’s pretty cool considering that they are American birds and those are the colours of the flag. They also have pretty unique feet. Two toes point forward and two point back, which leaves x-shaped footprints behind.

3. On the hunt

They feed on all kinds of small reptiles, eggs, small mammals and sometimes berries and seeds. Water is scarce in the habitat of the roadrunner, but that doesn’t phase him. He gets all the water he needs from the blood of his prey. Roadrunners are known for eating rattlesnakes. Usually they catch a snake by the head and slam it against a rock to subdue it.

4. Perfect parents

Roadrunners are monogamous, which means they stay with one partner throughout their lives. The male and female roadrunners take turns at incubating the eggs as well as feeding the chicks. A female roadrunner lays up to six eggs. After the female lays her eggs, they hatch in about 20 days. After that, they still live with their parents for a few weeks before they go out on their own.

5. Cooing and clacking cuckoos

These fast birds are known by a few names, which include ground cuckoos, snake killers and earth cuckoos. They are part of the cuckoo family and make a variety of different sounds, which include cooing and clacking. None, however, include the sound that Road Runner makes in the cartoon with the same name.

6. Symbol of strength and courage

There were some ancient beliefs around the roadrunner. Various Native American and Mexican people believed that the feathers of the bird were able to ward off evil and that the tracks of the roadrunner were able to help a lost person back to a path. They were also viewed as a symbol of strength and courage.

7. Home, sweet home

Standing about 28cm tall, these birds are fierce when it comes to territory. Usually the roadrunner marks out a kilometre region for himself and will attack anyone or anything that dares to enter his space. When the pair is ready to mate, the male will collect different materials for the building of the nest, while the female starts building on a flat surface. Most of the time roadrunners build their nests in cacti.

8. Gift giver

They live up to eight years and only start laying eggs at around two years old. When a male wants to attract a female, he usually tries to grab her attention by offering her insects or other small prey. The female decides on a partner with who she’ll spend the rest of her life.

9. Look at me!

They’re very nosy birds. When something grabs their attention, they’ll run up to it and investigate the situation. Some tourists have recounted that roadrunners have run up to them to simply have a look. Another few also spotted roadrunners outside their windows, wagging their tails like dogs and showing them the prey that they caught.

10. Cartoon antics

Statistics show that a coyote (the natural nemesis of the roadrunner) is able to run at speeds of 69km/h. According to the Warner Bros cartoon, Road Runner, Wile E Coyote wasn’t able to catch Road Runner, which shouldn’t be true. A coyote would be able to outrun a roadrunner.


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