• Big-berry manzanita and the skyline of the high peaks greet visitors who explore the steep and narrow portion of the High Peaks trail. NPS Photo|Sierra Willoughby

    Pinnacles

    National Park California

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

©NPS/Carlo Arreglo

Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus


This bird is in the same family, Cuculidae, as the three North American cuckoos, but it subsists on a very different diet: lizards and snakes. For pure observation entertainment, the Greater Roadrunner may very well be Pinnacles’ ounce-for-ounce champion. Look for this resident bird and its characteristic shaggy crest and long tail on, well, the paved roads leading to both the East Side and West Side entrances, fence boundaries, and open areas. If you’re fortunate, you’ll see a roadrunner stalking prey, then dash off after it. During the breeding season, listen for its call, which resembles a whimpering dog.


Diet: Lizards, snakes (including rattlesnakes!), but also insects, spiders, rodents.


Wingspan: 22” Length: 23”


Did you know? Despite the ability to fly, a Greater Roadrunner will run after its prey and can reach speeds close to 19 mph. The bird also has its own version of a solar panel, turning its back to the sun to absorb solar energy, made more efficient by exposing the black skin on its back.


Did You Know?

Pinnacles bee photo by Keir Morse

Pinnacles National Park has the greatest number of bee species per unit area of any place ever studied. The roughly 400 bee species are mostly solitary; they don't live in hives.