Roadrunner Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

You are about to meet a bird that would rather race across the land than fly in the air. This lesson teaches you about the speedy roadrunner. Learn where they live, what they look like and what they think tastes good for dinner.

The Speedy Roadrunner

If you were a bird, would you rather fly or run? Well, if you were a roadrunner, which is a long-legged bird that lives in the southern United States and Central America, you'd rather run! A roadrunner is not good at flying, but it can run about 17 to 20 miles per hour, which is faster than most people can ride a bike.

A roadrunner getting ready to run.
A Roadrunner

What Do They Look Like?

When you take a look at the roadrunner's body, it's easy to see why they prefer running over flying. The first thing you might notice about the roadrunner is its long legs, particularly on the greater roadrunner, which is the species that lives in the southern United States. There is also a lesser roadrunner. It lives farther south and looks like a smaller version of the greater roadrunner with a shorter bill.

Greater roadrunners can be found in the southwest areas of the U.S., in places like Death Valley.

Their feet are strong and unusual because they have two toes in the front and two toes in the back. Their wings are somewhat short for their body, which gives you an indication that flying is not this bird's favorite way to move around.

A roadrunner is about 20 inches long, and its black and brown feathers are broken up by white streaks. It has a long tail, a long bill, and a tuft of feathers on its head that it can flare up like a funny looking crown.

Where Do They Live and What Do They Eat?

The greater roadrunner lives in the southwestern states, and the lesser roadrunner can be found in Central America and Mexico. They like to live in deserts, grasslands and woodlands, which is where they find their food.

A roadrunner at home in the grasslands

Roadrunners like to eat insects, like grasshoppers and crickets, but they also dine on larger creatures, like lizards, scorpions, snakes, eggs and small rodents. If nothing else is around to eat, a roadrunner will eat some plants and fruits.

If you see a roadrunner in the wild, it will mostly likely be by itself, or with its mate.

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