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Californian earthen cuckoo

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Large, or California, cuckoo-plantain (Geococcyx californianus) Belongs to the largest species of the Old World Cuckoo family, its length is 50-60 cm, of which 31-35 cm fall on the tail, while the wings reach only 17 cm in length. The plumage is colorful, but not bright.

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Psyllium cuckoo widespread everywhere, from southern California and Texas to Mexico itself, and is well known for its original appearance and peculiar way of life. It lives in deserts and semi-deserts in the south and southwest of the USA and in the north of Mexico. Both natives and immigrants give her many names: in Mexico, “peasant” or “plantain”, in Texas - “steppe rooster”, in California her name is “earthen cuckoo”. Short wings do not allow her to make large flights, but thanks to her long legs she can move very quickly on the ground. Therefore, the plantain cuckoo belongs to the settled birds in the full sense of the word, and only in extreme cases does it once change its place of residence to another.

This bird spends most of its time on earth and preys on snakes, lizards, insects, rodents and small birds. She is fast enough to kill even small vipers, which she grabs with her beak on the tail and hits her head on the ground. She swallows the prey whole. This bird got its English name RoadRunner (road runner) because it used to run after mail carriages and grab small animals disturbed by their wheels. All kinds of insects and soft-bodied, especially snails ”make up the food of cuckoo-plantain. She usually cleans snails from a shell in open places, so that the remnants of her lunch are often found in the forests inhabited by these cuckoos. This cuckoo also attacks vertebrates, especially reptiles, and is considered among the Mexicans the most important destroyer of young rattlesnakes.

Lifestyle

Extremely long legs and a long tail are adaptations to a desert lifestyle. The California Cuckoo Plantain is an extremely good runner. It can reach speeds of up to 42 km / h. The special arrangement of the toes helps him in this, as both outer fingers are located back, and both inner fingers are forward. He flies, however, because of his short wings very poorly and can stay in the air for only a few seconds. Psyllium cuckoo has developed an unusual energy-saving way to spend cold nights in the desert. At this time of day, his body temperature drops and he falls into a kind of motionless hibernation. On his back there are dark skin areas uncovered with feathers. In the morning, he spreads his feathers and exposes these areas of the skin to the sun, so that his body temperature quickly returns to normal.

Breeding

California Cuckoo Plantain Throughout the year, lives in its habitat and leads a monogamous lifestyle. Unlike most members of the cuckoo family, she does not lay her eggs in other people's nests. His compact nest, in which from four to nine eggs are laid, he builds in an elevated place, for example, on cacti or bushes. Both parents look after the chicks.

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