Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)


French: Grand Géocoucou German: Wegekuckuck Spanish: Correcaminos grande

Saurothera californiana


, 1829,

California, USA


Birds from Texas (USA) to E Mexico (S to Nuevo León and Veracruz) on average smaller and have been awarded race dromicus, but overlap in size with those from other parts of species’ range. Monotypic.


SW USA from NC California, Utah and Colorado E to Missouri and Louisiana S in Mexico to S Baja California, Michoacán, Puebla and Veracruz.

Descriptive notes

52–58 cm; male 187–430 g (once 588 g), female 250–352 g. Large and slender, with long tail and long legs; streaked brown above with bronze gloss, shaggy... read more


Mournful dove-like “coo” notes, slow and descending in pitch; also a bill-rattle.


Arid scrub, lowland or montane; widely dispersed in dry open country with scattered brush, mesquite... read more

Food and feeding

Opportunistic carnivore, taking: insects (grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, caterpillars, beetles), scorpions, centipedes, spiders (... read more


In S California, breeds from late Feb in low elevations of Lower Sonoran Life Zone, a month later in upland deserts of Upper Sonoran Life... read more


Resident. Pair remains on territory all year and in successive years; one remained five years in... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Common to fairly common; population numbers over most of range have shown no significant change in period 1966–1993. Most numerous in SE... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. & de Juana, E. (2020). Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 February 2020).