Roadrunners are especially adapted to life in the desert. The usually solitary bird can reduce its internal temperature to compensate for the heat of the day, as well as reduce its body temperature and metabolic rate during cold, desert nights (called daily torpor). While it can fly briefly to escape predators or travel downhill, the bird’s preferred transport is its strong, stout legs and feet. In fact, it can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour!
These ground cuckoos are incredibly quick and agile, allowing them to snatch a hummingbird out of mid-air and making them one of the few rattlesnake predators. Although they swallow their prey whole, they’re not always able to ingest the entire length at one time. Thus one might witness a roadrunner sauntering about with half of its meal dangling from its beak.
While they often live alone, roadrunners mate for life. Once a roadrunner has found a mate, the two will stay together, although they don’t typically socialize with other roadrunners. Individuals and couples can be spotted in city parking lots and out on the plains and mesas.
The roadrunner is also the state bird of New Mexico.
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