If your familiarity with the roadrunner is limited chiefly to a popular Warner Brothers cartoon, you're not alone. The bird with the genus and species name Geococcyx californius is a poor flier, at best, but can cover ground with startling speed for an animal that grows to only about two feet in length.
The roadrunner's habitat includes mostly dry areas and ranges from the western and south-central United States to Mexico. It has black and brown feathers and yellow eyes, and boasts a characteristic crest on its head. It is an omnivore, feasting on small reptiles, spiders, fruits, berries and even other birds.
The roadrunner can reach a top speed of about 20 miles an hour. This approximates the average speed of a world-class, human 400-meter runner. For reference, a coyote can run over 40 miles an hour. A roadrunner, however, can take evasive action by zigzagging without significantly losing speed.
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