Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Zeiss - Always on the lookout for something special – Shop now

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Personal tools
Main Categories

Greater Roadrunner

From Opus

Adult femalePhoto © by MarysanPamo Valley, California, 17 July 2005
Adult female
Photo © by Marysan
Pamo Valley, California, 17 July 2005
Geococcyx californianus


[edit] Identification

In flightPhoto © by 4NilesScottsdale, Arizona, 25 July 2012
In flight
Photo © by 4Niles
Scottsdale, Arizona, 25 July 2012

L. 51-61 cm (20-24 in.)
Ws. 81 cm (32 in.)

Usually seen walking or running along desert terrain, weaving skillfully through openings in fences or underbrush.

  • Upper parts, chin, and chest are heavily streaked brown and white;
  • Buff belly
  • Shaggy crest on head, not always erect
  • Bill long and stout with hooked tip.
  • Long pale blue legs and feet
  • Sometimes has a patch of bare skin behind the eyes with colors of blue, red and orange.
  • Males and females similar, but males with orange facial skin.
  • Immatures similar to adult female but have less bronze gloss on their tertials.

[edit] Distribution

Mexico, southwest and southern midwest states of USA, in suitable terrain.

[edit] Taxonomy

Most authorities now classify this as a monotypic species[1]. In the past up to four poorly differentiated subspecies were recognized: californianus, kongligi, conklingi, and dromicus[2].

[edit] Habitat

Dry, hot country. Scrub, chapparal, agricultural areas, urban fringes.

FledglingPhoto © by 4NilesScottsdale, Arizona, 12 April 2012
Photo © by 4Niles
Scottsdale, Arizona, 12 April 2012

[edit] Behaviour

Spends most of its time on the ground, often solitary. Flies with reluctance, especially if threatened, when it will fly into brush cover to hide. Flying is more of an open, extended-wing gliding, from the nest or other high perch.
Can be quite tame where not persecuted. This fairly common member of the cuckoo family (Cuculidae) was called the Ground Cuckoo in centuries past, because it was often seen running along in front of carriages. They can still be commonly seen darting across or along roads, although at a peak speed of 15mph, they can no longer keep up with traffic.

[edit] Diet

Runs to catch snakes, lizards, small birds and rodents. One of the only animals known to attack rattlesnakes.

[edit] Breeding

A monogamous breeder.

[edit] Vocalisations

Mournful dove-like “coo” notes, slow and descending in pitch; also a bill-rattle.

[edit] Movements

Resident. Pair remains on territory all year and in successive years.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Avibase
  3. Hughes, J. M. (2011). Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.
  4. Payne, R. & de Juana, E. (2018). Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 15 October 2018)

[edit] External Links:


Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.31966805 seconds with 8 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 06:35.