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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Greater Roadrunner -- Geococcyx californianus
(formerly Roadrunner)

RANGE: Resident from northern California (rarely) and western and central Nevada east to southern Kansas and north-central Louisiana south to Mexico.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Typically associated with desert regions, but also found in chaparral, grasslands, open woodlands of pine and oak, agricultural areas, and moist woodlands. Frequents edge habitats provided by a mixture of open land, brush, and forest; also at home among tall pines and magnolias or mesquite and cactus.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Bare areas with some scattered trees and bushes.

NEST: Usually nests in a low tree, bush, thicket, or clump of cactus from 3 to 15 feet above ground, rarely on the ground. In desert regions, builds nest so that bands of shade cross the nest during the extreme heat of the day; prefers staghorn cholla for nesting site in arid regions.

FOOD: Feeds primarily on animals, with about 10 percent of the diet consisting of vegetable matter. Eats a great variety of insects, spiders, scorpions, snails, lizards, and small snakes; also eats some young birds and small mammals, and fruits and seeds.

REFERENCES: Bryant 1916, Johnsgard 1979, Oberholser 1974a, Ohmart 1973, Terrill in Farrand 1983b.

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