Many people are familiar with the famous animated duo, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner from Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies. These classic cartoons illustrated the hungry coyote's hilarious, and unsuccessful attempts to chase down the speedy, long-legged bird time and time again.

But did you know that elusive bird goes beyond just being a well-known cartoon character?

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Roadrunners are real, and they can be found right here in Colorado.

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Greater roadrunners are ground-dwelling members of the cuckoo family. The range of these intriguing birds extends across the southwestern United States, including in Texas, Oklahoma, southern Kansas, southeastern Colorado, and into central Mexico. They prefer living in arid climates with light foliage, such as deserts, dry grasslands, and on the edge of forests.

While they do exist in Colorado, they are not the most common birds to see.

Earlier this January, a greater roadrunner was spotted behind a building in Durango, Colorado.

Although they are regular residents in the southeast corner of Colorado, they seldom go north of that. That being said, there was one time a roadrunner was observed in a Safeway parking lot in Idaho Springs.

In 2022, the Audobon Society reported roadrunner sightings in the Bangs Canyon area of Western Colorado, which is outside of their typical range. Although they don't migrate, some younger roadrunners may wander considerable distances.

Some identifying features of roadrunners are their brown and white plumage, shaggy crests, long tails, and long bills. Both sexes have distinct head crests that look like funky hairdos. Their unique bodies are designed for running fast; these birds can reach speeds of approximately 20 miles per hour.

Roadrunners, however, cannot fly well and can only get off the ground for a few seconds. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, these birds are usually seen walking quickly or foraging near roadways, but they can be a top of a fence post or overhead wire.

Joshua J. Cotten/Unsplash
Joshua J. Cotten/Unsplash

They spend most of their lives on the ground hunting. This species feeds on insects, other birds, rodents, and small reptiles. Hungry roadrunners have been known to take down the occasional rattlesnake too.

Colorado's severe winters are these birds' worst nightmare. This is one major reason why not many exist within the upper portion of the state.

Scroll Through Some of Colorado's Rarest Birds

The Colorado Bird Records Committee of Colorado Field Ornithologists reports an amazing 514 species of birds can be found in the Centennial State. Scroll through the photos below to see some of the rarest birds you'll encounter in Colorado.

Gallery Credit: Wes Adams

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