Roadrunner Information, Photos, and Facts

The Roadrunner is one of very few animals quick enough to prey upon rattlesnakes, yet it has a comical personality that can brighten the day of anyone who spots one. Simply just relax, pay attention, and enjoy!

The Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is native to the Southwestern desert and gained its name from its habit of running on the road towards cars. American Expedition is proud to present information, interesting facts, and photos of the Roadrunner.

Roadrunner Facts, Information, Habitat, and Tips for Spotting Roadrunners from American Expedition

Roadrunner Information

Roadrunners are members of the Cuckoo family of birds. They are large slender ground-dwelling birds measuring 18 to 24 inches from tail to beak and weighing 8-24 ounces. They have dark brown-and-white streaked bodies with a distinctive spiky head crest and a colorful bare patch of skin behind each eye. This patch is shaded blue by the eye and fades to red towards the back of their head. The Roadrunner’s tail is long and broad with white tips on the three outer tail feathers. They have long legs, strong “zygodactyl” feet (possessing two toes in front and two toes in back), and a large dark bill. They vocalize with both a dove-like “coo” or a rapid clattering noise made with their beak.



Although capable of flight, the roadrunner prefers to spend most of its time on the ground. Roadrunners can run at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour and generally prefer sprinting to flying because their short wings are only able to keep their large body airborne for a few seconds at a time. They will usually only fly to escape predators or when traveling down steep slopes.

Roadrunners are thought to be monogamous birds, meaning the male and female mate with each other for life. Breeding season varies each year in accordance to correct temperature and food availability. The male and female work together to get the nest ready for the eggs; the male collects the materials and the female builds it. After the nest is made, usually on a low tree or cactus, the female lays 3-10 white eggs. Because the female’s body temperature drops at night, the male is in charge of incubating the eggs. After 20 days, the chicks hatch and both parents care for them. The chicks are able to leave the nest within 18 days, but the parents care for them for about 30-40 days more. The lifespan of a roadrunner is roughly 8 years.

Roadrunner Facts

  • Roadrunners enjoy perching high to sunbathe.
  • A roadrunner nest is made of anything the male can find such as sticks, snakeskin, and leaves.
  • The roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico.
  • The roadrunner is one of the very few animals quick enough to prey upon rattlesnakes.
  • A roadrunner may produce two clutches a year. This is more common in rainy years.
  • The roadrunner is also called “Chaparral Bird.”
  • Roadrunners have yellow eyes.


  • The roadrunner does not migrate.
  • Roadrunners can make about 7 different calls.
  • Roadrunner Habitat

    The roadrunner lives in the southwestern United States, from California to the southwestern corner of Missouri, and down to northern Mexico. It enjoys desert conditions with sporadic brush on the ground.

    What Do Roadrunners Eat?

    This bird is omnivorous and its diet consists of insects, small reptiles, small mammals, eggs, nestlings, fruits and seeds. They also eat many venomous desert species like spiders, scorpions, and rattlesnakes. They may leap in the air to catch insects or even hummingbirds, and commonly batter live prey against the ground to subdue them.

    Tips For Spotting Roadrunners

    • Listen for the “coo” noises made by these birds.
    • Roadrunners blend into their surroundings very well. Keep a look out for their head crest or their white-tipped tail.
    • Because of their speed, you have to keep a sharp eye out when looking for them.
    • Roadrunners can be very skittish, so sit still or watch from a distance using a pair of binoculars.

    This roadrunner was filmed outside of a roadside store in Arizona.

    A roadrunner with a spider in its beak.

    The roadrunner's diet consists mainly of insects, small reptiles, small mammals, eggs, nestlings, fruits and seeds, although they are known to eat scorpions, rattlesnakes, and hummingbirds.

    2 roadrunners in courting behavior.

    Roadrunners often engage in "dancing", which is most likely a territorial display or a courtship behavior.

    Roadrunner against a background of green grass.

    The roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico.

    Roadrunner in a tree.

    Roadrunners enjoy perching high in trees to sunbathe.

    Roadrunner running on green grass.

    The roadrunner is also called “Chaparral Bird.”