The Greater Roadrunner is a desert dweller of the cuckoo family, and seen throughout lower elevations into the foothills of our mountains including the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson.
The ground running bird will only fly if absolutely necessary, and even then it will not fly very far. Although the Roadrunner cartoon has this speedy bird running faster than a speeding train, realistically the Roadrunner can only run about 15 mph.
This large cuckoo is brown with white and buff colored streaks. The head sports a crest on top, with the face colored in blue and a dab of orange behind the eyes.
The Roadrunner diet consists of small snakes, lizards, insects and even other birds. It also enjoys fruits and seeds in addition to its carnivorous diet.
On a cold day, you might see a Roadrunner fluff up its feathers. This is to expose the black skin underneath, which absorbs more heat than their lighter colored feathers.
Although the Roadrunner doesn’t really say “beep beep”; the sound it makes is a distinctive “cooos” sound.
Reference: The Nature of Madera Canyon by Douglas W. Moore, Friends of Madera, 1999; whatbird.com