Well named is the long-billed, long-legged and long-tailed bird called "roadrunner." This member of the cuckoo family prefers to run on its legs rather than fly, although it will take to its wings to cross a canyon. On the ground it can move along at 15 to 20 miles an hour with ease, never seeming to get tired. As it runs along it may suddenly jump a foot or two into the air to snatch an insect tidbit. The roadrunner is so speedy that if chased, rather than take to wings, it sprints along out of danger. An obstacle in its path is no problem, because, if one looms up, the bird scoots around it with ease by the aid of a swing of its tail. One auto is reported to have chased a roadrunner that dashed along at a speed of 22 miles an hour. Another fast-running bird is the emu. One of these large birds, chased by an auto, managed to keep up a speed of 31 miles an hour for 10 miles.
Though the emu is fast, the ostrich generally is viewed as the swiftest bird on land. The wings of these fleet-footed speedsters, though useless for flight, help to give lift to the bird's heavy body as it runs, enabling it to reach a top speed of 40 miles an hour!