The Roadrunner Bird

4th July 2010

Both are more commonly known today as Road Runner.  The first, described by Hernandez (Hist. Anim. Nov. Hispan. p. 25, cap. lii.) under the name of Hoitlallotl, and then identified by Buffon with the Paraka of Barrere (France Equinox. p. 140), was mistaken by Latham for the Parraqua drawn by Bajon in 1777 (Mem. pour l'hist de Cayenne, i. p. 374, pl. i.), and became the Phasianus mexicanus of Gmelin.   This, being the southern form, is presumably that which is usually nowadays called the Lesser Roadrunner (Geococcyx velox).


The second, a larger bird, inhabits New Mexico and the adjacent part of the United States of America, and, under the name of Saurothera californiana, was described by Lesson (Compl. Buffon, vi. p. 420) as one of the most interesting discoveries of (then) modern times. This bird is the Greater Roadrunner, (its latin scientific name now being Geococcyx californianus).


The habits of both seem to be very similar and very remarkable.They have short wings, and seldom fly unless suddenly surprised, but use their long legs to run with great speed, bearing their lengthy tail erect. Their feet have two toes at the front and two pointing behind (known as zygodactyl feet).