Article and photos by Kathryn Mann
I have seen the Greater Roadrunner moving swiftly across roads and open spaces in almost every part of Oklahoma from the densely forested Ouachita Mountains in southeastern part of the state to the desert plains of the panhandle. While Greater Roadrunners are fast runners often moving at 17 mph (about twice as fast as the best human Olympic marathoner), they are no match for another bird, the Ostrich, which can run long distances at 40 mph.
Male Greater Roadrunner looking for his next meal
Greater Roadrunners can fly but rarely do.
The Greater Roadrunner is just under two feet long from head to tail. Their body is speckled brown with black feathers on its back and wings. They have yellow eyes, long legs, and a long tail. They also have a distinctive a crest. Males have a red and blue patch on the side of their head.
Female Greater Roadrunner
Greater Roadrunners eat many of the most poisonous creatures in Oklahoma including rattlesnakes and scorpions.
The Greater Roadrunner can go without drinking water if their diet has a high enough moisture content.
Greater Roadrunners prefer living in open areas like this where their coloring offers them camouflage
Even though the Greater Roadrunner looks unique among birds it is part of the cuckoo family.
The Roadrunner is a monogamous bird. Males bring gifts of lizards or snakes to females during courtship.
Greater Roadrunners usually live about eight years.