Every child who has ever seen a cartoon featuring Wile E Coyote and Road Runner has to have wondered if poor Wile E ever had a fair shot at catching the Road Runner. According to Mark Lockwood’s Basic Texas Birds: A Field Guide, with or without Wile. E. Coyote chasing it, a Greater Roadrunner can reach speeds of 20 MPH (32 KPH) while a Coyote can reach speeds of up to 43 MPH (69 KPH). Clearly, in an all out footrace, the roadrunner would be dinner.
Of course, a couple facts get in the way of Wile E Coyote snacking on Road Runner. First of all, roadrunners have an amazing ability to use ground cover as they run and they rarely move in a straight line. Wild coyotes can’t expect roadrunners to actually stick to the road when their life is on the line! There is also the really pesky fact that roadrunners can fly. They prefer not to but if a coyote were about to catch a roadrunner that roadrunner would take to the wing and be gone!
Finally, despite what Warner Brothers would like you to believe, there has never been a documented instance of a coyote catching a roadrunner.** Shocking, no? Especially considering that coyotes are known to eat pretty much everything! It’s as if all the cartoons I watched as a child were just made up scenarios in pretend worlds with no actual relation to reality and no practical use whatsoever. Oh well.
It would seem that despite the greater speed of the coyote, and, considering its adaptability to multiple habitats, what is likely a greater native intelligence, that the roadrunner will somehow always stay one step ahead of its cartoon nemesis. To that, there is only one thing to say.
Should a coyote someday catch a roadrunner the result would likely be something like this:
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has spent the last five years in Queens. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their two indoor cats, Hunter and B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications.
Donna's 2014 Year List - 557
Redgannet's 2014 Year List - 533
Carlos's 2014 Year List - 366
Corey's 2014 Year List - 314
Jochen's 2014 Year List - 301
Clare M's 2014 Year List - 296
Duncan's 2014 Year List - 188
Carrie's 2014 Year List - 148
Carlos's 2013 Year List - 1587
Jochen's 2013 Year List - 553
Corey's 2013 Year List - 511
Donna's 2013 Year List - 438
Duncan's 2013 Year List - 430
Clare M's 2013 Year List - 368
Redgannet's 2013 Year List - 212
Larry's 2013 Year List - 206
Redgannet's 2012 Year List - 660
Jochen's 2012 Year List - 542
Corey's 2012 Year List - 525
Felonious Jive's 2012 Year List - 404
Duncan's 2012 Year List - 402
Clare M's 2012 Year List - 300
Clare K's 2012 Year List - 040
Greg's 2012 Year List - 004