Dr. Overy's KBase: Resources for Teaching and Learning

The Roadrunner

Article ID: 32
Last updated: 04 Jul, 2022

It has been caricatured in Warner Bros cartoons as a mad senseless runner speeding along roads, but this does not do it any justice at all......

This amazing bird prefers to run rather than fly! It is a member of the Cuckoo Family (Cuculidae).  It is a survivor, and a successful predator in desert conditions, where food is often scarce! Sure it is fast, but not as fast as illustrated in the cartoons. 

It is capable of running away from predators and towards its prey at speeds around 15 mph.  Therefore, the roadrunner's basic speed provides advantages both in defence and attack modes! 

Its prey consists of scorpions, lizards and other small animals. It is also quite capable of capturing rattlesnakes and devouring them with gusto! It uses its speed and its wings to deflect the fangs away when the rattlesnake strikes. After a while the rattlesnake becomes tired, and the Roadrunner goes in for the kill. 

It adapts to the desert environment with some ease. During cooler weather it can spread its wings and direct them towards the Sun, and the black surface plumage provides and excellent heat absorber. 

During the extreme high temperatures of the desert sun it must find other ways to cool itself. It does this by evaporation.  It is able to vibrate its throat lining, and send moist air from within itself, to encourage the rate of evaporation, and consequently increase the rate of cooling. 

It usually nests twice a year, to coincide with the relatively higher rainfall levels.  More eggs are laid during the summer months, when there are more insects available for food.  The weaker nestlings are often used as food during periods of severe food shortage.  This cannibalistic nature, as harsh as it may seem, is yet another means of survival. 

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Article ID: 32
Last updated: 04 Jul, 2022
Revision: 2
Views: 101
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