Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Yellow-Billed Oxpecker

The yellow-billed oxpecker is very similar to the red-billed oxpecker in its eating habits. It differs from the red-billed oxpecker by having a yellow bill with a red tip, red eyes, and a buff colored rump. 
A cape buffalo with a yellow-billed oxpecker on its back. Photo by John Mirau.
Closer view of the above bird, showing yellow bill with red tip and red eyes are barely visible. 
Immature birds have a brown bill. 
Immature yellow-billed oxpecker on a cape buffalo at Mount Kenya NR. 
Closer view of the immature bird. 
The distribution is also different, but they do overlap to some extent, obviously including the area where we were traveling. The yellow-billed oxpecker is not found in extreme East Africa and is found in west-central Africa and portions of west Africa, in an area that looks like it approximates the savanna. 
Cape buffalo in Masai Mara with yellow-billed oxpecker on its back. 
White rhino in Nakuru NP with a yellow-billed oxpecker on its cheek. This gives a view of the buff rump and the fanned-out tail being used to balance. The mammal host generally tolerates the birds unless they get a little painful around the eyes and ears. Photo by Michael Lewin. 
They are beneficial in removing huge numbers of ticks from large mammals and also warn the mammals of approaching predators. With their penchant for blood, the do sometimes open and expand existing wounds on their mammal hosts. 

1 comment:

  1. Brave little birds to sit on rhino and cape buffalo backs!