The Roadrunner (called Geococcyx californiana by scientists) is a bird about 20 to 25 inches long--but almost half of this length is made up of its tail feathers. It weighs about 7 ounces, making it fairly light for its size. The roadrunner has a light gray or tan belly with black and copper-colored feathers. Its back and tail feathers are black and white with blue tints in the feathers. The roadrunner has long thin legs that end in very unique feet: 2 toes point forward and 2 toes point backward!! Because roadrunners mainly walk or run (instead of flying), these feet are very important.

Roadrunners are found in dry, arid, desert environments with scrub bushes and open spaces. During colder weather this bird nests in dense shrubs to stay warm. The roadrunner is a mainly ground-dwelling bird common in the southwestern USA and in Mexico. Roadrunners eat all kinds of insects, small birds, snakes, rodents, seeds, and even fruit if avaliable. Did you know that a roadrunner grabs its prey and bangs it against rocks to break its bones and kill it? It then swallows the animal whole. When looking for food it can run as fast as 18 miles per hour--fast enough to catch a rattlesnake!

Male roadrunners lure and attract females with offers of insects or other small food items. The female may then decide to mate. After mating, the female roadrunner will lay up to 8 eggs every 3 days or so in a nest she has built in a nearby bush. The eggs hatch 18 days after they are laid. Unlike some other animals, both the male and female roadrunner guard the eggs and provide food for their young once they are born. After about 3 weeks the young roadrunners are able to survive on their own.

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