Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus

Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus

This large, ungainly-looking cuckoo runs swiftly through deserts and woodlands in pursuit of lizards and other prey; it also runs to escape enemies (including the coyote), and it has been clocked at 15 mph, although its usual pace is somewhat more sedate. At dawn, the male Greater Roadrunner can be heard calling through the desert stillness from the top of a mesa or the branches of a dead tree.

Identification 20-24". Large, upright, with bushy crest and long tail. Streaked brown and buff above and on breast; dingy white on belly. Iridescence in tail and upperparts visible at close range; also blue-and-red patch behind eye. Immature lacks eye patch.

Voice A long, sad, descending coo, coo, coo, ooh, ooh, ooh; also a variety of whines and clucks.

Habitat Open, dry areas with scattered brush and thickets; open woodlands, agricultural areas, and grasslands.

Range N. California east to S. Kansas and NW. Louisiana, south into Mexico.

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