How to Feed a Roadrunner

By David M. Oancea

The Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), also know as the chaparral cock and a member of the cuckoo family, can run up to 19 miles an hour and was made popular in a series of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons illustrating Wile E. Coyote's encounters with the Roadrunner. The species can be found in the southern United States and northern Mexico. In New Mexico, it is the state bird. Due to extensive urbanization and agricultural development, roadrunners have experienced a negative growth trend in recent years, since they prefer "open, arid country with thickets," according to and are especially adapted to the desert. Their diet relies heavily on insects but also includes larger prey, such as lizards, snakes, scorpions, small mammals and birds. They also feed on fruit and seeds in season when other food sources are scarce.

Capture and collect insects, purchase worms from the bait store, or purchase frozen mice to have on hand if a roadrunner appears in the yard. They have even been known to eat bits of hamburger and other human food items.

Get the roadrunner's attention by talking, then toss the food towards the bird, since roadrunners normally eat their prey off of the ground; or hold the food out and attempt to hand feed.

Make cactus and other fruit available, since the roadrunner is an omnivore. Although it prefers meat and does not seem to need water, when insects, reptiles and small mammals are scare, it will eat fruits.