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The Roadrunner, or Chaparral Bird, (Geococcyx californianus,) a long-legged bird of the cuckoo family was adopted as the official state bird on March 16, 1949. Also called the chaparral bird, the roadrunner inhabits desert and shrubby country in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
legendary Roadrunner is famous for its distinctive appearance, its ability to eat rattlesnakes and its preference for scooting across the
American deserts, as popularized in Warner Bros. cartoons.
The Roadrunner is a large, black-and-white, mottled ground bird with a distinctive head crest. It has strong feet, a long, white-tipped tail and an oversized bill.
It ranges in length from 20 to 24 inches from the tip of its tail to the end of its beak. It is a member of the Cuckoo Family (Cuculidae), characterized by feet with 2 forward toes and 2 behind.
When the Roadrunner senses danger or is traveling downhill, it flies, revealing short, rounded wings with a white crescent. But it cannot keep its large body airborne for more than a few seconds, and so prefers walking or running (up to 17 miles per hour) usually with a clownish gait.
The law designating the chaparral bird, commonly called roadrunner, as the official New Mexico state bird is Section 12-3-4B of the New Mexico Statutes, Chapter 12 (Miscellaneous Public Affairs Matters) Article 3 (State Seal, Song and Symbols) Section 12-3-4.B
CHAPTER 12 - Miscellaneous Public Affairs Matters.
ARTICLE 3 - State Seal, Song and Symbols.
12-3-4. State flower; state bird; state tree; state fish; state animal; state vegetables; state gem; state grass; state fossil; state cookie; state insect; state question; state nickname; state butterfly; state reptile; state amphibian.
A. The yucca flower is adopted as the official flower of New Mexico.
B. The chaparral bird, commonly called roadrunner, is adopted as the official bird of New Mexico.
C. The nut pine or pinon tree, scientifically known as Pinus edulis, is adopted as the official tree of New Mexico.
D. The native New Mexico cutthroat trout is adopted as the official fish of New Mexico.
E. The native New Mexico black bear is adopted as the official animal of New Mexico.
F. The chile, the Spanish adaptation of the chilli, and the pinto bean, commonly known as the frijol, are adopted as the official vegetables of New Mexico.
G. The turquoise is adopted as the official gem of New Mexico.
H. The blue grama grass, scientifically known as Bouteloua gracillis, is adopted as the official grass of New Mexico.
I. The coelophysis is adopted as the official fossil of New Mexico.
J. The bizcochito is adopted as the official cookie of New Mexico.
K. The tarantula hawk wasp, scientifically known as Pepsis formosa, is adopted as the official insect of New Mexico.
L. "Red or green?" is adopted as the official question of New Mexico.
M. "The Land of Enchantment" is adopted as the official nickname of New Mexico.
N. The Sandia hairstreak is adopted as the official butterfly of New Mexico.
O. The New Mexico whiptail lizard, scientifically known as Cnemidophorus neomexicanus, is adopted as the official reptile of New Mexico.
P. The New Mexico spadefoot toad, scientifically known as Spea multiplicata, is adopted as the official amphibian of New Mexico.
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Chaparral Bird (Roadrunner)
Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates
Class: Aves - birds
Order: Cuculiformes - cuckoos
Genus: Geococcyx Wagler, 1831 - roadrunners
Species: Geococcyx californianus (Lesson, 1829) - Correcaminos norteno, greater roadrunner