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Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), the Iconic Hill Country Cuckoo, Part One

Wimberley's Avian Entertainers

By Patsy Glenn

Folks in Wimberley are often treated to the amazing antics of this these large long-legged ground dwelling cuckoos. They streak in front of our cars, coo to us with a descending-note song, or sometimes entertain us with the castanet-like clattering noise of their mandibles rolling together.

Photograph 2000, Greg W. Lasley

Photograph 2000, Greg W. Lasley

Trail buddies...

Sometimes called "chaparral cocks", these brown, white and black racing birds favor areas with low desert shrubs and cactus.

They are territorial, so a monogamous pair will often delight you with their presence in the same general area.

No wonder they are also nicknamed "Paisano!" The name indicates the congenial companionship of this fellow traveler who is so curious about YOU he will stay only a few yards ahead on a lonely trail.

The male roadrunner attracts the female by parading with his head held high, his cock fluffed and his wings and tail dropped. He alternately lifts and drops his wings while spreading his tail. At our house a similar ritual of tail dragging resulted when our roadrunner friend decided to take an "ant bath" to rid himself of parasites.

Photograph 2000, Greg W. Lasley

Males and females often sun themselves by squatting or sitting with feathers erected and wings dropped. Their dark feathers and black-pigmented skin absorb heat.

Continue with Greater Roadrunner, Part 2

Title Photograph 2000, Greg W.  Lasley



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