Bird Families

Little Plantain Cuckoo / Geococcyx velox


The ground cuckoo is the largest member of its family.

The plumage of the bird is variegated, but modestly colored. The back is brownish with white and rufous longitudinal spots. A small crest is visible on the head. The abdomen is whitish, the throat is leathery, covered with black streaks. There are no feathers around the eyes, the bare skin in this place is blue, an orange spot stands out behind the eyes. The iris of the eyes is red.

The ground cuckoo has a body length of up to 60 cm. The legs are large and strong with two toes pointing forward and two backward. The tail is long, and the wings are short and weak, about 17 cm long. The beak is large and strong, equal to the length of the head. Outwardly, males and females do not differ from each other.

California ground cuckoo (Geococcyx californianus).


  • Video, audio and photo materials about the video California plantain cuckoo
    in the Internet Bird Collection database
  • Californian plantain cuckoo: information on the IUCN Red List website
  • Photos of the California plantain cuckoo

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See what "California plantain cuckoo" is in other dictionaries:

california plantain cuckoo - dirvinė bėgūnė statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Geococcyx californianus angl. greater roadrunner vok. Wegekuckuck, m rus. california cuckoo plantain, f pranc. grand géocoucou, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas - bėgūnės… Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

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Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner - two characters of the eponymous series of short animated series Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. Both characters (the coyote and the Californian plantain cuckoo) were created by cartoonist and director Chuck Jones in 1948 for Warner ... ... Wikipedia

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Geococcyx californianus - dirvinė bėgūnė statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Geococcyx californianus angl. greater roadrunner vok. Wegekuckuck, m rus. california cuckoo plantain, f pranc. grand géocoucou, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas - bėgūnės… Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

Wegekuckuck - dirvinė bėgūnė statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Geococcyx californianus angl. greater roadrunner vok. Wegekuckuck, m rus. california cuckoo plantain, f pranc. grand géocoucou, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas - bėgūnės… Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

dirvinė bėgūnė - statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Geococcyx californianus angl. greater roadrunner vok. Wegekuckuck, m rus. california cuckoo plantain, f pranc. grand géocoucou, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas - bėgūnės… Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

grand géocoucou - dirvinė bėgūnė statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Geococcyx californianus angl. greater roadrunner vok. Wegekuckuck, m rus. california cuckoo plantain, f pranc. grand géocoucou, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas - bėgūnės… Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

Breeding ground cuckoo

Ground cuckoos are monogamous birds. During the breeding season, permanent pairs are formed. Plantain cuckoos live in certain areas, and males strictly guard the nesting territory.

The California plantain cuckoo can behave quite aggressively and is capable of attacking.

During the breeding season, birds behave quite aggressively and are able to attack even their own reflection on the surface of a car stopped in the desert. Birds build a nest from dry grass and twigs in bushes or thickets of cacti. The female lays 3-9 white eggs. The female and male cuckoos incubate the clutch and feed them.

California cuckoo

The California, or earthen, cuckoo, sometimes called the plantain, is well known to the inhabitants of North America. Habitat. It lives in the southwestern part of North America.

Habitat. The California cuckoo is common in the northern outskirts of Mexico and in the southwestern United States - California, Arizona, New Mexico, as well as Texas and Arkansas. Its typical habitat is arid sandy and rocky areas overgrown with rare shrubs or grasses, forest edges and rare groves of dwarf oak. Quite often it can be seen on the sea coast.

Species: Californian cuckoo - Geococcyx californianus. Family: Cuckoo. Order: Cuckoo-like. Class: Birds. Subtype: Vertebrates

Reproduction. Depending on availability, Californian cuckoos make 1-2 broods per season. In places where the rainy season occurs only once a year, and food is tight, birds are limited to one brood per year. Where heavy rains fall twice a year, cuckoos have time to breed twice. The nest is usually placed 1-5 m above the ground, in intertwining tree branches or on thorny cacti. Both partners are involved in its construction: the male collects building material, and the female twists a structure of twigs, dry grasses and pieces of snake crawls. Caring for the female, the gentleman first presents her with a treat - a lizard or a small snake, and then proudly walks in front of her with his tail pulled up, issuing dashing cries. At the decisive moment, the male jumps high and falls from above directly onto the partner. After mating, the female lays at intervals of several days from 2 to 6 (rarely up to 12) dirty white eggs and from the moment the first egg is laid, begins to incubate. Incubation lasts 20 days.

Lifestyle. Californian cuckoos live in pairs, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and fiercely defend their territory from intruders all year round. From morning to evening, the birds scurry busily around their site, measuring out kilometers in small steps, and with equal ease running over hot stones and loose sand. With short wings, cuckoos fly badly, reluctantly, and only for short distances. Early in the morning, the cuckoo goes out to its daily fishery. The common diet of this feathered predator consists of grasshoppers, snails, lizards, birds and mice. Often poisonous snakes, including young rattlesnakes, also become its prey. Seeing the fleeing prey, the cuckoo rushes in pursuit and inflicts a killing blow on it with its beak. The bird catches large insects on the fly, jumping high into the air. She swallows small prey - insects, spiders or snails - whole, and grabs large prey in its beak and hits it with force on the ground several times. The earthen cuckoo has no shortage of natural enemies: it is hunted by hawks, domestic cats, and skunks.

Did you know?

  • The California cuckoo has a habit of putting the shells of eaten snails in one place. Piles of shells are a clear sign that an earthen cuckoo lives somewhere nearby.
  • A running bird makes 21 steps per second, up to 65 cm long.
  • When hunting for rattlesnakes, the earthen cuckoo covers itself with spread wings, like a shield.
  • The Californian cuckoo easily tolerates a lack of water, because special glands remove excess salts from its body.
  • An earthen cuckoo runs at a speed of approx. 20 km / h, but at short distances it can accelerate to 40 km / h.

Californian cuckoo - Geococcyx californianus. Body length: 50-62 cm. Wingspan: 45-60 cm. Weight: 225-340 g. Number of eggs in a clutch: from 2 to 12. Incubation period: 20 days. Puberty: 2-3 years. Food: insects, reptiles. Life expectancy: 7-8 years.

Structure. The crest. A crest of rather long feathers grows on the head, which stand on end in an excited bird. Beak. The end of the large and strong beak is slightly bent downward. Border around the eyes. Around the eyes there is a border of bare skin of blue color. Tail. The very long tail helps the bird to make sharp turns on the run. Neck. The rather long neck makes it easier to find food on the ground. Wings. Short, weak wings do not allow long flights. Legs. Long and strong legs are the hallmark of a good runner. Plumage. The dorsal side of the body is brown with red and white longitudinal spots. The ventral side is off-white. Fingers. The long fingers end in sharp claws.

Related species. The subfamily of earthen cuckoos, uniting 10 species of birds, is part of the cuckoo family. All of its representatives inhabit North, South America and Asia. Some earthen cuckoos have forgotten how to fly for a long time, but instead they have mastered the skill of fast running. Certain species of ground cuckoos, like many of their relatives, are nest parasites.

Features of the behavior of the earthen cuckoo

The ground cuckoo has not only a characteristic appearance, but also habits.

While running, the earthen cuckoo stretches its neck somewhat, slightly spreads its wings and lifts the crest. The bird flies up the trees only in case of emergency and flies only short distances.

This land bird prefers to spend the night, nevertheless, on the branches of low trees.

The name of the earthen cuckoo can be translated from English and Spanish as "running along the road", just the bird prefers to move among the thickets along animal paths. The earthen cuckoo usually feeds in open areas and finds food on the ground and roadside plants. In case of danger, thanks to its long legs, the cuckoo can demonstrate a speed of up to 30 kilometers per hour, but still prefers to hide in thorny bushes.

The plantain cuckoo is a very uncommunicative bird. Each individual of this species lives separately, almost without moving away from its place of residence. Here the bird feels like a complete mistress: it calmly and calmly walks in search of food, raising its tail and slightly tilting its body forward.


The California cuckoo lives as a married couple on its home plot and carefully protects it from uninvited guests. All day she scurries across the occupied territory, measuring out whole kilometers with her small steps. She easily overcomes loose sand and boulders heated by the sun. The cuckoo flies poorly and flies short distances only when absolutely necessary.

In the early morning, the bird goes hunting. She catches grasshoppers, mice, snails and lizards. The cuckoo often preys on poisonous snakes. During the hunt for poisonous reptiles, she opens her wings and covers herself with them.

Seeing a running prey, the feathered predator overtakes it and kills it with a well-aimed blow of its strong beak. For large insects, she jumps up and catches them on the fly. Small prey swallows immediately, and before swallowing large prey it hits the ground several times.

The natural enemies of the cuckoo are coyotes, skunks, hawks and domestic cats. In case of danger, the bird quickly runs away and hides in dense thickets. The running Californian cuckoo is capable of making sharp 90 ° turns without slowing down. While running, she takes up to 20 steps per second. The stride length reaches 65 cm.

For spending the night, the bird settles high on a tree. In order to keep warm, she falls into a daze.

To recover early in the morning, she bask in the sun, her feathers spread out. It has a dark patch of skin between its wings. This speck heats up well and the bird warms up within 15-25 minutes.

In hot weather, the cuckoo gets rid of excess heat through an open beak, which helps to reduce fluid loss. She can withstand intense heat relatively easily, since she has special glands for removing excess salt from her body.

Listen to the voice of the earthen cuckoo

This bird moves in a completely different way in moments of danger. The earthen cuckoo is not inferior in speed to any running horse, not a single bird can compare with it.

Short wings do not allow the bird to make long flights, however, if necessary, the earthen cuckoo changes its permanent habitat.

An earthen cuckoo jumps up to 3 meters above the ground and, to maintain its body in the air, only opens its wings for a minute, but moves a long distance. The bird can quickly fly over a short section of the path, but short wings do not allow it to rise above 2 meters in height.

The earthen cuckoo has perfectly adapted to the conditions of the desert. At night, when the ambient temperature drops to 10 degrees, the bird's body temperature drops 4 degrees lower.

This allows the plantain cuckoo to save energy consumption. In the morning hours, cuckoos bask for a long time in the sun, fluffing feathers on the neck and on the back and spreading their wings. At the same time, a kind of "solar batteries" are switched on on the bird's body, they quickly raise the temperature of the body, which has cooled down overnight.

Who knows what this bird is?

For some reason I saw something predatory and "reptilian" in this bird. Like a little dinosaur with feathers. And now an amazing video under the cut finally convinced me ...

The large, or Californian, plantain cuckoo (Geococcyx californianus) belongs to the largest species of this family, the total length is 50-60 cm, of which 31-35 cm are on the tail, while the wings reach only 17 cm in length. The plumage is variegated, but not bright.

The plantain cuckoo is found everywhere from southern California and Texas all the way to Mexico, and is well known for its original appearance and distinctive lifestyle. Both natives and settlers give her many names: in Mexico "little man" or "plantain", in Texas - "steppe rooster", in California she is called "earthen cuckoo". Short wings do not allow her to make long flights, thanks to her long legs, she moves unusually quickly on the ground. Therefore, the plantain cuckoo belongs to sedentary birds in the full sense of the word, and only in extreme cases changes its once chosen place of residence to another.

These birds are very uncommunicative, each of them lives separately and as quietly and secretively as possible, almost not moving away from its place of residence. Here you can see how she wanders calmly and calmly, her tail lifted and the front part of her body slightly tilted. This bird moves in a completely different way in moments of danger. On the run, it will not yield to any running horse, at least in this respect no bird of North America can compare with it. She is able, jumping, to rise above the ground by 3 m and to maintain her body in the air only spreads her wings for a minute, but is thus transported across vast spaces. It can fly rather quickly, but its short wings do not allow it to stay above 2 m above the ground.

This peculiar way of movement sometimes encourages Mexicans to persecute, which is undertaken, of course, not so much for the sake of cuckoo meat as in order to show the art of riding in pursuit of such a fast bird. Colonel McCull said that he once noticed this cuckoo on the road and, for the sake of pleasure, rushed after it. The bird was in front of his horse at a distance of a hundred paces and immediately began to run when it saw the pursuit behind it.

More than 400 steps pursued McCull the cuckoo along a narrow road, along which it rushed in leaps, stretching its neck and slightly spreading its short wings, but still could not catch up with it. When she finally disappeared into the thicket of the forest, the hunter was already 50 steps away from her. Dresser assures that he, too, often chased this bird, but he never saw her, even in the most hasty flight, use her wings.

All kinds of insects and soft-bodied ones, especially snails "make up the food of the plantain cuckoo.She usually cleans snails from shells in open places, so that in the forests inhabited by these cuckoos, the remains of her dinner are often found. This cuckoo also attacks vertebrates, especially reptiles, and is considered by the Mexicans the most important exterminator of the terrible and hated rattlesnake, with the cubs of which it, they say, copes easily.

Due to its skill in jumping, this cuckoo does not miss winged prey, and in general in gluttony and predation, as well as in dexterity in catching prey, it is in no way inferior to other members of its family. The only sounds that we have so far managed to hear from plantain cuckoos are a faint, rarely emitted cry or cooing, quite similar to the cooing of pigeons and accompanied by the raising of the crest and tail.

We do not have accurate information about the breeding method of this bird. Herman found a nest unskilfully woven from branches, in which there were two large white eggs, between the leaves of a cactus.

The location that the Mexican plantain cuckoo enjoys is due to the ease with which it turns into a semi-domesticated bird. She is often kept in captivity, and in a short time she gets so used to the changed circumstances that she can not only be allowed to walk freely around the house, but even walk around the yard and garden.

Having got used to it, she soon becomes quite tame and provides a valid service, eating mice, small snakes and other reptiles, as well as beetles and other harmful animals. Its meat brings more imaginary than real benefits, since it is used by the Mexicans as a healing agent against various diseases. This opinion gives the plantain cuckoo the honorary title of poultry, but often costs her life. We also noticed that some cuckoos, like cats, play for a long time with the caught prey, and then swallow it whole.

























Eating the earthen cuckoo

The ground cuckoo feeds on insects and snails. The bird removes the soft body of snails from the shell in open places, therefore, the remains of its feast are often found in the forests inhabited by earthen cuckoos. An earthen cuckoo, attacking a snake, tries to stab it in the head with its powerful long beak.

This bird also attacks snakes and copes even with such a dangerous reptile as the rattlesnake.

At the same time, the bird constantly jumps, dodging the throws of a poisonous reptile. The ground cuckoo also feeds on rodents, lizards, small birds, insects, spiders, scorpions, among which poisonous individuals come across.

Occasionally, the plantain cuckoo eats leaves, shoots, fruits of plants. Chicks feeds exclusively on reptiles. The jumping ability helps the earthen cuckoo to hunt birds. In general, the predatory tendencies of this bird are obvious. In gluttony, predation, cunning and dexterity in obtaining food, this species is not inferior to other species of its family.


The cuckoo in Europe is the only species of feathered nesting parasite that lays eggs in the nests of other birds. Every year the female cuckoo returns to the places where she grew up herself, and chooses the birds of the same species that fed her as educators for her chicks.

Usually, at the end of May, the cuckoo lays one egg in about nine nests, in which birds incubate their eggs at this time. In order to lay an egg in someone else's nest and, as some researchers believe, to throw out one of the hosts' eggs, a cuckoo takes a few seconds. To make the changes as less noticeable as possible, the female chooses those birds whose eggs resemble her own. Since cuckoo eggs have a shorter incubation period than other birds, its chick hatches first. The cuckoo chick is stronger and larger than other chicks. The next day, the cuckoo exhibits an ejection reflex: everything that lies in the nest, the cuckoo seeks to throw away.

Within three to four days, the cuckoo gets rid of the named brothers and sisters. In total, he spends three weeks in the nest.

Leaving the nest, the cuckoo still flies badly. He begins to fly well only a week after leaving the nest.

Foster parents feed the cuckoo for another 1-1.5 months after leaving the nest.

The meaning of the earthen cuckoo

The ground cuckoo's meat is tasteless and tough, like rubber, but the locals eat it. It is considered curative due to the bird's amazing ability to digest poisonous snakes.

Ground cuckoo meat is considered curative due to the fact that the bird is able to digest poisonous snakes.

Mexicans endow the earthen cuckoo with unusual properties. They carve plantain cuckoo amulets and sell them to tourists. There is a sign that if the earthen cuckoo crosses the traveler's road, then the further path will be easy and safe. The earthen cuckoo is used as the emblem of the American state of New Mexico and the Texas Folk Society.

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Notes (edit)

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  1. 12
    Life of animals. Volume 6. Birds / ed. V.D.Ilicheva, I.V. Mikheeva, Ch. ed. V.E.Sokolov. - 2nd ed. - M .: Education, 1986 .-- S. 294, 304 .-- 527 p.
  2. Boehme R.L., Flint V.E.
    A five-language dictionary of animal names. Birds. Latin, Russian, English, German, French / Under total. ed. acad. V.E.Sokolova. - M .: Rus. lang., "RUSSO", 1994. - P. 136. - 2030 copies. - ISBN 5-200-00643-0.


The body length reaches 60 cm. The head is covered with a tuft of long feathers. When excited, they rise up. Around the eyes is a blue leather border.

With the help of an elongated neck, the bird picks up food from the ground. The long tail helps the cuckoo to make sharp turns while running.

Small wings are not suitable for long-distance flights. The back is dark brown and covered with white spots, the abdomen is white. Long, muscular legs allow the bird to move quickly over the surface.

The average lifespan of a California cuckoo is 6-7 years.

Runner cuckoo, California land cuckoo or California running cuckoo, all these titles refer to a small bird - the California plantain cuckoo. It mainly lives in desert and semi-desert areas, which are found in Mexico and the southern part of the United States.

Description of the California Cuckoo Runner

The adult runner cuckoo has rather long legs and an even longer tail, which is half the total length of the bird. And by and large it is used as a steering and brake. Her belly and neck are presented in a light shade, but the rest of the body has a rich brown color with white dots. The Californian cuckoo does not have the main place of residence; they are located throughout the territory, plying over most of the surface of the earth. Since this type of cuckoo has rather small wings, they therefore cannot stay in the air for a long time. But here the Californian cuckoo-runner is running very fast. Its speed while running can reach about 40km / h

Another feature of the marathon cuckoo is that it falls into the so-called stupor at night. This is due to the fact that at night the air temperature in the desert decreases, and in order not to overcool the cuckoo simply falls asleep. And in the morning, with the first rays of the sun, this bird wakes up and begins to warm up, straightening its wings. Due to the fact that parts of the body not covered with feathers are located on the back of the runner cuckoo, this bird is very sensitive to temperature changes and this allows it to quickly warm up, and the same quickly enter a state of sleep.

Californian cuckoo feeding and breeding

As for nutrition, the Californian cuckoo marathoner prefers small rodents, insects, snails, and is very fond of small vipers and lizards. Due to the fact that this bird can develop a fairly high speed, it can catch its food right on the go. After a successful catch, the cuckoo strikes its prey with its head on the ground and then eats it.

Unlike its congeners, the Californian earthen cuckoo incubates its chicks on its own. In one season, this type of cuckoo can produce one or two broods. This directly depends on the abundance of food and on the amount of precipitation during the season. For a cozy incubation of their chicks, a couple builds a nest at a height of no more than 5 meters, and both parents are involved in this process. There is a distribution of responsibilities between them, which consists in the fact that the male searches for all the necessary materials, and the female builds a nest from them.

Flirting with Californian cuckoos begins with the fact that the male brings his beloved a gift, mostly either a small snake or a lizard. After that, he demonstrates a kind of dance in front of the female, spreading his big tail and producing no less peculiar melodies. A few days after courtship, the female begins to lay eggs, when the clutch is fully produced, the cuckoo begins to incubate the chicks. After the allotted time, chicks begin to appear in the order of laying eggs. Like all chicks in the first days, they are completely helpless, therefore they require special attention and care. But this is only for a week because, after this time, the chicks begin to leave their nest, but, however, not very far. When the chicks turn 21 days old, they leave their native nest and go to independent living, but sometimes they do not forget to visit their parents to refresh themselves with their handouts. The full maturity of the Californian marathon cuckoo begins after 30-40 days, then they fly away from their native places. And the sexual maturity of this type of cuckoo occurs at the age of 2-3 years.

The main feature of the marathon cuckoo

The running cuckoo is the only member of its genus that mainly moves on the ground. This is due to the fact that its main food is animals and insects crawling on the ground. And I wonder how long it will take to run? Thanks to the scorching sun in the desert sands, most of them crawl out of their burrows in search of shaded places or coolness. These birds can fly, but for a rather short period and at the same time not very high. Basically, this type of cuckoo performs flights in extreme cases or during the construction of a nest for its children. Since the Californian earthen cuckoo builds a dwelling for future descendants at a height of about 5 meters. Very often, either small trees or cacti are chosen as a place for a nest. Therefore, due to the fact that the cuckoo moves mainly on the ground in search of ground food, the speed of its running is very significant. All this is due to the fact that, unlike other representatives of birds, the Californian runner cuckoo has a very interesting structure of its paws. In most birds, the toes are 3 toes in front and 1 toes back. But the Californian cuckoo has a completely different structure, it has 2 toes in front and 2 in the back. Placing the fingers in this way allows the bird to maintain maximum balance not only when holding on to the branches, but also helps very well when running.

Another interesting fact of the marathon cuckoo is that it can make 90-degree turns with great ease and, most importantly, it, moreover, may not slow down. To visually evaluate the run, the bird makes 21 steps in one second, and the stride length is about 65 centimeters. The ability to run very quickly and make such maneuvers allows the Californian cuckoo to escape from its enemies. These are coyotes, hawks, skunks, as well as domestic cats.

The Californian Marathon Cuckoo is a fairly common bird in Mexico; it is very often tamed by the locals to catch small rodents and pests, which sometimes annoy the local population. This bird is very fond of not only for its ability to exterminate small pests, but it is also very interesting to watch it while hunting. It hunts like a cat, which can play with caught prey or gracefully catch its food on the fly.