Yellow-billed Oxpeckers

The African Oxpeckers

Yellow-billed Oxpecker

The Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Buphagus africanus, is a passerine bird in the starling and myna family Sturndidae.


Distribution / Range:

It is native to the savannah of sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal east to Sudan where they prefer open country. It is least common in the extreme east of its range where it overlaps with Red-billed Oxpecker, despite always dominating that species when feeding.


Breeding / Nesting:

The Yellow-billed Oxpecker nests in tree holes lined with hair plucked from livestock. It lays 2-3 eggs. Outside the breeding season it is are fairly gregarious, forming large, chattery flocks. Non-breeding birds will roost on their host animals at night.


Diet / Feeding:

The Yellow-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 more than 100 engorged female Boophilus decoloratus ticks, or 13,000 larvae in a day.

This oxpecker will also clean wounds, but its useful parasite control is partially negated by its tendency to keep wounds open or create new ones.


Description:

The Yellow-billed Oxpecker is 20 cm long and has plain brown upperparts and head, buff underparts and a pale rump. The feet are strong. The bill is yellow, tipped red. Its flight is strong and direct.


Song / Vocalization:

The call is a hissy crackling krisss, krisss.


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