Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ABC Wednesday: R is for Roadrunner

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A Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) at Burgers Zoo. They are instantly recognisable bird, not just because of their cartoon counterpart. Roadrunners are cuckoos, but unlike other species in this family, the roadrunner much prefers running and walking to flying. They are capable of flight, though, and they are the fastest running birds who still can fly. 17mph seems to be a comfortable speed for them, the fastest roadrunner has been clocked at a speed of 24mph.
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Roadrunners feeding on insects/invertebrates and some fruits and berries, but they will also prey on small reptiles and snakes, rattlesnakes in particular. It's also not uncommon for them to sneak up on other, smaller birds. Here are photos of a roadrunner stalking and killing a cowbird on The Birdchick's blog.

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A pair stays together after mating and raises their chicks together. There's usually a clutch of 4-9, sometimes up to 12 eggs, but unless it's a very good year, only the chicks who hatch first survive. Any runts are often thrown out of the nest or even eaten by the parents.

Sources and further reading:
Desert USA
Wikipedia, German and English

More Rs at ABC Wednesday and more birds at World Bird Wednesday

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