Geococcyx californianus

| 20 Comments

Photograph by David Young

Roadrunner-in-Carlsbad.jpg

Geococcyx californianus – Greater Roadrunner, Carlsbad, New Mexico, with lunch.

20 Comments

*fires up the Acme online catalog*

Does anyone know why genus names ending in “-coccyx” are so pupular amongst the Cuculidae?

“Coccyx” is Latin for Cuckoo. (Probably originally Greek, given the ‘y’ in it.)

Google it:

The term coccyx [referring to the human tailbone] comes originally from the Greek language and means “cuckoo”, referring to the curved shape of a cuckoo’s beak when viewed from the side. [Wikipedia]

My (long gone) Grandmother on my fathers side for whatever reason collected road runner stuff; paintings, sculptures etc. I always smile a little when I see one of the little buggers because it makes me remember her. Sorry… that was probably oversharing.

I always smile a little when I see one of the little buggers because it makes me remember her.

Oddly, I always think of Fort Stockton. Probably because I end up driving through west Texas on a regular basis, and, well, they have this smack dab in the middle of the downtown busisness district.

(While we’re on I-10, Fort Stockton does a much nicer job at roadrunner homage than Las Cruces, btw).

I grew up seeing these birds haunting the brush of southern and central California; still come across them on walks here.

Graceful and swift little hunters. Thanks for sharing, Matt.

Wile E. Coyote should be along any second now;)

Not having ever seen one, do they actually live up to their moniker and run around US roads? If not, why the name? If yes, why are they not endangered?

Gerald said:

Not having ever seen one, do they actually live up to their moniker and run around US roads? If not, why the name? If yes, why are they not endangered?

They run very fast around along the ground, which often includes roads in the parts of North America where they live.

Roadrunners aren’t endangered because most of them evolved the ability to avoid traffic, and humans find it to be too troublesome to collect and eat them.

Stanton said:

Roadrunners aren’t endangered because most of them evolved the ability to avoid traffic, and humans find it to be too troublesome to collect and eat them.

To be fair, even the most brilliant coyote who ever lived had a spot of bother on that front.

Here’s their page on the tree-of-life website: http://tolweb.org/Geococcyx/91904

The best book I have seen about this bird is “The Roadrunner” by Wyman Meinzer, publ. 1993 by Texas Tech University Press. It makes a great coffee-table decoration.

I live in Southern CA, where RR’s are commonplace, and they frequent our neighborhood. I vividly recall one encounter while driving a golf cart. I was driving at its top speed, about 20 MPH, when I was easily passed by a RR running in the same direction, chasing a lizard it spotted on the side of the road. They do not fly long distances, but can reach rooftops easily with a combination of leaps and flight.

Gerald said:

Not having ever seen one, do they actually live up to their moniker and run around US roads? If not, why the name? If yes, why are they not endangered?

Gerald,

Here in AZ we see them all the time. Saw one down the block from our house last week and again on Sunday. They seem rather intelligent (for birds) and are rather good at dashing across the street when cars aren’t present, etc. You see far more coyotes on the side of the road than you do road runners, though if one gets hit it is rather difficult to tell them from any other bundle of feathers and gore.

chasing a lizard it spotted on the side of the road

Which is why that coyote never catches him - wrong bait in the traps!!111!one! (Dry bird seed, when what a road runners wants is a nice juicy lizard or snake? Hah!)

Wile E. Coyote’s already been, Frank. That looks like his appendage in the roadrunners mouth…and I don’t mean his coccyx. ;-)

BTW, anybody else broken their tail-bone? Man that hurts.

Yarbrough said: They do not fly long distances, but can reach rooftops easily with a combination of leaps and flight.

A good example of nature’s answer to the creationist babble ‘what use is half a wing?’

Sean said:

Wile E. Coyote’s already been, Frank. That looks like his appendage in the roadrunners mouth…and I don’t mean his coccyx. ;-)

BTW, anybody else broken their tail-bone? Man that hurts.

A slippery SI joint is bad enough, thanks.

Sean said:

BTW, anybody else broken their tail-bone? Man that hurts.

I have a friend who had 6 children.

She broke her coccyx giving birth each time for the first 5. Labour and broken bones ouch. She also mentioned getting up in the middle of the night and sitting on your coccyx for a couple of hours a day to breast feed is really fun when you are recovering.

She insisted on a Caesar for the 6th.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on July 13, 2009 12:00 PM.

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