• The roadrunner,Geococcyx californiana, is a member of the Cuckoo family, more precisely of the subfamily Neomorphinae or Ground cuckoos. The old world, especially the common European cuckoos are well known 'brood parasites', that is they lay and abandon their eggs in other birds nests and those unsuspecting birds raise the young cuckoo. The roadrunner and the other American cuckoos are not brood parasites they raise their own young. The roadrunner is usually associated with the deserts of the US Southwest but its range is from almost as far East as the Mississippi River West to the Pacific Ocean, as far North as about the Oklahoma Kansas border South into Mexico, its range is increasing due to over grazing of range lands. Other names include, Chaparral Cock, snake killer, and lizard bird, paisano( American Spanish for "fellow countryman" or "country gentleman"), Correcamino (Spanish- Roadrunner), and Grand GĂ©ocoucou (French-'big ground cuckoo'), ) The breeding season begins with the spring rains, in some areas that also have a late summer rainy season there may be two breeding seasons.The male Roadrunner begins the mating ritual by offering choice morsels; a nice big lizard, snake , or rat; to a female as an inducement to mating. He dances around her, leaping and even hovering above her, teasing her with the food until she begins to beg, he usually doesn't give her the food until after mating, no fool he. Mated pairs remain partners for years, perhaps even as 'life time mates.' Both birds collect twigs and sticks, but the female is the actual builder of the shallow saucerlike nest in a bush, small tree or even cactus. The male stays busy bringing more food and sticks and finally leaves, grass, feathers, cow patties (yuck), mesquite pods, and snakeskins for lining the rough nest. The female lays 2-6 white with a chalky yellowish dusted appearing eggs over the next 3 days to a week, that allows for a staggered rather than simultaneous hatching, if food becomes scarce the older larger young will eject their younger siblings from the nest. Their are reports of as many as 18 eggs in one nest, but probably other females lay their eggs in the nest, this somewhat gives the lie to the monogamous nature of the bird and echoes the Cuckoo nature of the Old World relatives. Probably these other females are younger ones attracted by the mating dance, and the male takes advantage of their presence to increase the chances of a successful brood. Those extramarital females do not stay around to help with raising the brood and often they make another more permanent arrangement with another male. Both birds incubate the eggs for 20 days or so, with the male taking the night shift. There is some speculation that the male is somehow better at maintaining a high body temperature thru the night than the female, but there is no consensus as to if or how he does that. The young stay in the nest for about another 20 days, usually only 3 or 4 survive the full time, the smaller ones are pushed out of the nest where they are often actually eaten by the parents! In fact the parents sometimes unwittingly kill the young thru kindness by trying to stuff too large a tidbit down their throats, if the prey is too large for one fledgling the parent will pull it out and offer it to another, if none of them take it the parent will eat it. Adults are one of the few predators that can swallow a full grown horny toad (horned lizard to you Yankees) but the horns can get stuck in the throat of the young and the toad can't be pulled out, the young bird chokes to death, other prey that is just to large can get stuck too. After leaving the nest the young remain near the parents for another couple of weeks or so, learning to hunt and kill their own prey before going out into the wide world on their own. The parents usually split up too, remaining in the general area until the next mating season. The 'song' of Paisano is a soft cooocooocooocooo, descending in volume over a few seconds. There is also a whirring chattering alert, or warning call. There is well known subspecies of roadrunner native to Hollywood whose call is a high pitched quick ' Beep Beep!' This variety, which apparently eats commercial bird seed rather then rattlesnakes and horny toads, has not yet been properly classified taxonomically, having a variety of scientific names, and has no known natural reproduction process. It can only be reproduced artificially by animators who, when a new roadrunner is needed, draw another one. Here's a link to some links to some pics and info;
  • The male goes "beep beep" and then the female responds to that. You can guess the rest. Lol:)

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