Where are oxpeckers located? The family Buphagidae and genus Buphagus each contain two kinds of birds called oxpeckers. On Birdwatching safaris you will see the oxpeckers were formerly thought of as belonging to the Buphaginae subfamily of the Sturnidae family of starlings, but molecular phylogenetic analyses have repeatedly demonstrated that they actually belong to a separate lineage that is basal to the sister clades that include the Sturnidae and the Mimidae (mockingbirds, thrashers, and allies). An African safari in Sub-Saharan savannah, oxpeckers are endemic.

The origin of both the English and scientific names is how likely they are to alight on huge mammals, both domesticated and wild, including cattle, zebras, impalas, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, and giraffes, and consume ticks, tiny insects, botfly larvae, and other parasites as well as the blood of the animals. It was once believed that oxpeckers conduct towards large mammals was entirely reciprocal, but current study indicates that the connection can also have a parasitic component. Askari wa kifaru (the rhino’s guard) is how the red-billed oxpeckers is known in Swahili.

Where they are found

A Africa safari tours in sub-Saharan region, where they are endemic, oxpeckers can be found in most open habitats. The driest deserts and jungles don’t have them. Their range is constrained by the presence of their chosen prey, particular tick species, and the animals that serve as those ticks’ hosts. Over a large portion of East Africa, the two oxpeckers species coexist peacefully, and they occasionally share the same host animal. Unknown are the specifics of the interactions between the two species.

Oxpeckers exterminate pests from animals, but they also draw blood from wounds and sores that could take a while to cure. The birds hiss to warn their hosts of potential danger when they are disturbed. On Kenya wildlife safaris oxpeckers are found in the Laikipia Plateau and Masai Mara, yellow-billed oxpeckers are far less numerous than red-billed oxpeckers in Kenya.

Oxpeckers only graze on the carcasses of large beasts. While some species, such as the Lichtenstein’s hartebeest or topi, are typically avoided, others appear to be desired. The smallest antelope species that is commonly used is the impala, likely because to the impala’s high tick burden and sociable character. Smaller antelope species including lechwe, duikers, and reedbuck are also avoided. They currently eat cattle in many areas of their range but stay away from camels. They eat insects that infest wounds, ectoparasite like ticks, as well as the flesh and blood of some wounds. Because they generate open sores on the animals’ backs, they are occasionally categorised as parasites.

Research and discussion on the relationships between oxpeckers and mammals are continuing. Thought to be an illustration of mutualism at first, subsequent data indicates that oxpeckers may actually be parasites. Oxpeckers do consume ticks, but frequently the ticks have already fed on the ungulate host. Furthermore, there is no statistically significant correlation between the presence of oxpeckers and lower ectoparasite loads. In order to ingest the blood of their perches, oxpeckers have been observed to enlarge already-existing wounds and create new ones. Less is known about the benefits that may accrue to mammals from oxpeckers consumption of their earwax and dandruff, but it is assumed that this is likewise a parasitic habit.

Some oxpeckers hosts don’t like having them around. When the oxpeckers land, elephants and some antelope will actively push them away. However, it has been shown that elephants have allowed oxpeckers to consume parasites from them. While oxpeckers inspect their faces for ticks, other animals put up with their intrusive and disagreeable behaviour, according to one author.

Their legs are likewise well suited to living on mammals when perched. They have shorter legs so they can grab onto moving hosts. Strong toes and pointed nails help the oxpeckers in their quest for food and, as a side effect, regulate the parasite population on their mammal hosts. The birds are also known to aid in the healing of open wounds. They are searching for the rotting wound tissue close to the open sore. These lesions can be effectively cleaned by oxpeckers. They have shorter legs so they can grab onto moving hosts. Strong toes and pointed nails help the oxpeckers in their quest for food and, as a side effect, regulate the parasite population on their mammal hosts.

Where are oxpeckers located? : Red billed oxpeckers

Red billed oxpeckers can only be found in habitats with animal hosts for the insects the birds feed, primarily ticks. The animals that host the events are often larger mammals like zebra, giraffe, buffalo, and rhinos or antelope like impala or kudu. The hosts in agricultural settings may also be domestic livestock, such as cattle. A few species of small antelope, including elephants, will not accept the birds at all.

The sub-Saharan African savannah is the red-billed oxpeckers’ natural habitat. It extends from southern Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique, and north-eastern South Africa through Ethiopia and Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia.

The Red-billed Oxpecker is a bird the size of a starling. The bird is relatively simple to identify despite having creamy underparts and a very plain olive-brown colour. Adults have eyes that are bright red, completely crimson beaks, and unique yellow rings around their eyes. They can cling to the sides and backs of their hosts at dangerous angles thanks to their long, very sharp claws and muscular legs. Additionally, they possess short, rigid tails that are employed as props. The major differences between the two Oxpecker species, besides colour, may be seen in the shape and function of their beaks. The yellow-billed Oxpecker extracts parasites from its hosts with its powerful beak.

Where are oxpeckers located?
Red billed oxpeckers

Oxpeckers breeding

In at least one area, the oxpeckers’ mating season is correlated with the rainy season, which has an impact on both the activity of their mammalian hosts and the number of ticks on those hosts. Copulation and courting both take place on their hosts. They build their nests in cavities, generally in trees but occasionally in other kinds of cavities like holes in walls. The nests are lined with grasses and frequently with hair taken from their guests, even unwanted livestock like sheep. The red-billed Oxpecker can lay up to five eggs, although typically only two to three are laid in a clutch.


It has been observed that red-billed oxpeckers roost in trees and reeds. Using night time cameras, studies of large savannah herbivores have revealed that both species of oxpeckers, but more frequently the yellow-billed Oxpecker, may also roost on the bodies of herbivores, hanging underneath the inner thighs of giraffe and on top of impala and buffalo.

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