The Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is native to the desert southwest portion of the U.S., also found in most states of the southwest. These birds are year-round natives of Texas, including the Oak Prairie Region here at Oakridge Ranch. Several birds have been seen for the last few years in our area and we have had a nesting pair for the last 4 years.
These birds are much more interesting than the one made famous in the Warner Brothers cartoon series. Adult birds are 20-24 inches long with a large up-turned tail and long beak and mottled black/brown & white feathering throughout its body that appears to look like stripes. These birds have long legs with 4 toes on each foot, two pointing forward & two pointing back. You’ll rarely see a Roadrunner in flight for more than a few feet because it can’t get the lift it needs due to its size. However, Roadrunners have been clocked at 12 to 17 miles per hour.
Roadrunners mate for life and have 2 or 3 clutches per year as habitat conditions and food availability allow. A hen will usually lay 2 to 12 eggs in one clutch, but records show up to 20 eggs have been laid in rare clutches. Their nest is built by the female 2 to 12 feet off the ground with materials supplied by both the male and female. Interesting thing is the male sits on the nest at night since the female’s body temperature drops too low to keep the eggs warm enough. Young birds hatch out at about 20 days and are taken care of by both parents. The baby Roadrunners will leave the nest at 18 to 21 days, but will continue to be fed & cared for by the parents until day 30 to 40 when they go out on their own. Greater Roadrunners’ life span is approximately 8 years.
Greater Roadrunners are omnivores. Their diet is varied and includes insects, various plants & berries, lizards, small birds such as sparrows & hummingbirds. And they are fast enough to take on rattlesnakes for dinner! These beautiful birds do drop their activities by approximately 50% during the heat of the day.
Stay alert when you’re on the roads in and around Oakridge and you just might catch a glimpse of the amazing birds.
Below is a link for more information on breeding of Roadrunners in Texas:
Check out this next link for a map of their locations in the U.S.:
Click on any picture here to enlarge it!
Live life outdoors!