Name This Ground Bird Found In The Desert Southwest

Living in the desert has introduced me to a whole new ecosystem, full of wonderful plants and animals.  Recently, the bird pictured below ventured into our backyard.  It even posed for a picture before jumping off the wall in pursuit of a lizard.  Name this ground bird found in the desert southwest.  (Hint:  This species owes its popularity to a cartoon character.)

Diagnosis:  Greater Roadrunner

If you got the answer right, congratulations.  Since this bird is crouching, it is difficult to appreciate its long legs and tail.  Adult roadrunners often reach 20 to 24 inches from beak to tail.  They are carnivorous birds, preying upon rodents, reptiles, insects and other birds.  Here in Arizona, my neighbors love these birds because they eat rattlesnakes.  Roadrunners are so fast that they can actually catch a rattlesnake without being bitten.  The bird grabs the snake by the tail and then beats it to death on the ground.  Truth be told, I feel sorry for the snake.  It must be an awful way to go.  After the snake is dead, they swallow it or as least as much of it as they can.  I have seen roadrunners walking around with a few inches of snake hanging out of their mouths. 

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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