Christopher Taylor Bird Nature Wildlife Mammal Photography
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GALLERIES > BIRDS > MUSCICAPOIDEA > BUPHAGIDAE > RED-BILLED OXPECKER [Buphagus erythrorhynchus]


Red-billed Oxpecker Picture
 
 

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SPECIES INFO

The Red-billed Oxpecker, Buphagus erythrorhynchus, is a passerine bird in the starling and myna family Sturndidae; some ornithologists regard the Oxpeckers to be in a family by themselves, the Buphagidae. It is native to the savannah of sub-Saharan Africa, from the Central African Republic east to Sudan and south to northern and eastern South Africa..

The Red-billed Oxpecker nests in tree holes lined with hair plucked from livestock. It lays 2-5, average 3, eggs. Outside the breeding season it forms large, chattery flocks.

The preferred habitat is open country, and the Red-billed Oxpecker eats insects. Both the English and scientific names arise from this species' habit of perching on large wild and domesticated mammals such as cattle and eating ticks. An adult will take nearly 100 engorged female Boophilus decoloratus ticks, or more than 12,000 larvae in a day.

However, their most favorite food is blood, and while they may take on ticks bloated with blood, they also feed on it directly, pecking at the mammal's wounds to keep them open to more parasites. So, what the bird does good to the mammal, is negated by it keeping the wounds open to parasites and disease.

This is a medium-sized passerine, 20 cm long with strong feet. The Red-billed Oxpecker has plain brown upperparts and head, buff underparts and a pale rump. The bill is red, and adults have a yellow eyering, both clear distinctions from the related Yellow-billed Oxpecker. Its flight is strong and direct, and the call is a hissy crackling trik-quisss.






                                     



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