Oxpecker bird

  • Well known for their habit of landing on the backs of buffaloes, zebras, large antelopes such as the elands, rhinos and giraffes.
  • They do this mainly for the purpose of getting food such as ticks and other blood sucking parasites.
  • There is a symbiotic relationship between the oxpecker birds and game mammals. They get food from the mammals and the mammals are pleased with this habit because the blood sucking and itching parasites are removed out of their bodies.
  • The birds also warn their hosts of any approaching danger. They give out alarm calls to enable their “friends”  to escape from the predators.
  • Poachers and other predators in the wild, such as the lions, leopards and even crocodiles  dislike them because of their warning calls. The birds are sharp in detecting danger.
  • They also eat other arthropods.
  • They lay 2 or 3 eggs in the tree holes (not excavated by them). Incubation period is 16 days.

2 Common species:

  • Yellow billed oxpecker - has a bill with two colors, red and yellow.
  • Red billed oxpecker - the whole bill is entirely red.