The Greater Roadrunner is a bird most of us desert dwellers are quite familiar with. It is actually a Cuckoo. They live throughout the southwest deserts, and do hang out in the foothills of our mountains, including the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson.
The Roadrunner cannot run as fast as the classic cartoon depicts, but it is capable of reaching 15 mph. It can fly, but will only do so if absolutely necessary. It is mostly carnivorous, dining on insects, scorpions, lizards, small birds and snakes; but does enjoy some fruit on occasion.
Roadrunners nest on the ground, often among cactus or in thick brush. The skin underneath their feathers is black, and when cold they raise their feathers to let the black absorb the sun’s rays to warm up. Another ingenious way our desert creatures have evolved to adapt.
The Roadrunner is New Mexcio’s state bird, but there is known as the “Chaparral Bird”.
A group of Roadrunner are appropriately called a “race” or “marathon” of them.
Reference: The Nature of Madera Canyon by Douglas W. Moore, Friends of Madera, 1999; Whatbird.com