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Wildlife Spotlight: Roadrunners

PictureGreater Roadrunners

Part of the Cuckoo family of birds, the roadrunner is a large, slender ground-dwelling bird that can measure up to two feet from tail to beak. Also known as chaparral birds, roadrunners can be found living in the southwestern United States, from California and northern Mexico to the southwestern corner of Missouri.
Roadrunners can be identified by their unique, distinctive features including their brown and white streaked feathers with a spiky head crest and long straight tails. A colorful patch of skin behind each eye can range in color from white to blue and red.
Although roadrunners are capable of flying short distances, these birds prefer to spend most of their time on the ground searching for a meal that can consist of insects, small reptiles, fruits and seeds. Roadrunners are also known to eat venomous desert species like spiders, scorpions and even rattlesnakes.

​If you can’t see a roadrunner, you might be able to hear their “coo” noises coming from nearby trees or shrubs. Known for their speed, roadrunners can run up to 20 miles per hour, so keep a sharp eye out next time you are on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. In fact, a pair of roadrunners can often be seen running around the Quail Hill staging area in Irvine. Restoration efforts in Quail Hill have provided an ideal habitat for roadrunners, with an abundance of vegetation and food sources to support the species.
Quail Hill is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk for visitors to explore southern Irvine’s extensive trail network. Next time you visit Quail Hill, try spotting the roadrunners that have made the area their home, but keep your eyes peeled as these birds were born to run!
For more information about native wildlife on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, visit or follow the Landmarks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.