We are going to stick with are feathered, cartoon friends today as we explore the life of the Roadrunner. I always enjoyed watching Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the speedy Roadrunner. It is funny how the Looney Tunes birds always outsmarted their opposition. We know the cartoon character made the phrase “Beep, Beep!” incredibly popular but what do we know about the real Roadrunner? Well, keep reading and let’s find out.
There are two species of Roadrunner, the Greater Roadrunner which is typically found in the Southwestern United States and the Lesser Roadrunner usually found in Mexico and Central America. Considering the setting of the cartoon, I am guessing our fictitious cartoon character is actually the Greater Roadrunner. Either way we will discuss general traits for both species.
The Roadrunner is actually a ground foraging cuckoo bird with fairly long legs. They will typically grow to about 56 cm (22″) long and weigh about 300 grams (10.5 oz) which is significantly smaller than the cartoon version. This particular cuckoo bird has four toes on each foot with two facing forwards and of course two facing backwards. So just how fast can these birds run? Well, they are able to get up to 32 km/hr (20 mph) which is why they depend on their long legs and weird toes to get them out of troubled situations. For example, when a coyote is trying to use ACME dynamite to blow up a rock cliff above your head. If the situation is really bad the Roadrunner is able to fly but can only stay in the air for a few seconds. Just enough to get out of danger and hit the road running.
Another interesting feature of the Roadrunner is their long beak which they rely on to feed on other animals. Yep, the Roadrunner is a carnivorous bird that will eat snakes, frogs, rodents, scorpions and even other birds. It is funny how Warner Bros. didn’t want to show this side of their beloved Roadrunner Character. In fact another name for the Roadrunner is “Snake Killer”. Personally, I think Wile E. Coyote and the Snake Killer sounds more entertaining than the Roadrunner.
Roadrunner Fast Fact – Ever wonder where the name “Roadrunner” comes from? Well, they received this name for the exact reasons you are thinking. It is not uncommon for this ground bird to run on the road in front of traffic before darting off into the safety of the forest.
That does it for our second Looney Tunes character. I will make sure we branch out a little tomorrow. Below you will find a clip of the famous Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner doing what they do best.