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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bird Roadrunner

The bird roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico. It was officially adopted on March 16, 1949. It was adopted under the name “Chaparral bird”. In Spanish, it is called “El Correcaminos”. The comical roadrunner prefers running to flying and has been clocked at speeds of 15 miles per hour. They are approximately 22 inches in length and their diet consists of insects, lizards, centipedes, mice and snakes. Bird roadrunners are quick enough to catch and eat rattlesnakes.

The two species of bird Roadrunners include the Lesser Roadrunner (G. velox) a slightly smaller, buffier and less streaky bird, of Mexico and Central America, which grows to a length of 18 inches. The Roadrunner is a large, black-and-white, mottled ground bird with a distinctive head crest. It has strong feet, a long, white- tipped tail and an oversized bill. It ranges in length from 20 to 24 inches from the tip of its tail to the end of its beak. It is a member of Cuckoo Family (Cuculidae), characterized by feet with 2 forward toes and 2 behind.

The Roadrunner inhabits open, flat or rolling terrain with scattered cover of dry brush, chaparral or other desert scrub. The bird roadrunner feeds almost exclusively on other animals, including insects, scorpions, lizards, snakes, rodents and other birds. Upto 10% of its winter diet may consist of plant material due to scarcity of desert animals at that time of the year.

During spring time, the male bird roadrunner in addition to acquiring food for him, offers choice morsels to a female as an inducement to mating. He usually dances around her while she begs for food, and then gives her the morsel after breeding briefly.

Both parents collect the small sticks used for building a shallow, saucer-like nest, but the female actually constructs it in a bush, cactus or small tree. Female bird roadrunner then lays from 2 to 12 white eggs over a period of 3 days, which results in staggered hatching. Incubation is from 18-20 days and is done by either parent, though preferably the male, because the nocturnally incubating males maintain normal body temperature. The species of roadrunner prefers arid deserts and other regions with a mix of scattered brush for cover and open grassy areas for foraging. For breeding, bird roadrunners require coastal sage scrub or chaparral habitat. In the outer limits of their range they may be found in grasslands and at the edges of woodlands.

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