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This is a roadrunner. During the day, roadrunners hide in the bushes to keep cool.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of Corel Photography

Desert Birds

Like the other inhabitants of the desert, birds come up with interesting ways to survive in the harsh climate. The sandgrouse has special feathers that soak up water. It can then carry the water to its young trapped in the nest.

Other birds, like the gila woodpecker, depend on the giant saguaro as its home. This woodpecker hollows out a hole in the cactus for a nest. The cool, damp inside is safe for the babies.

The roadrunner is probably the most well known desert bird, thanks to the cartoon. Roadrunners are so named because they prefer to run rather than fly. Ostriches also prefer to use their feet. Even the young depend on walking to find food and water.

The galah is one of the prettiest desert birds. It is one of the few species that return to the same nest year after year. Galahs are interesting birds, in that the number of eggs they lay depends on the climate. If the desert is in a drought, they don't lay any. However, during more tolerable years, the galah may lay as many as five eggs.

Last modified September 8, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA