Oxpeckers are inspirational. Oxpeckers are birds that live in the savanna of sub-Saharan Africa. There are red-billed Oxpeckers and yellow-billed Oxpeckers. They feed off the bodies of large mammals. They can often be seen perching on the backs of large mammals. They are seen on wild and domesticated animals such as cattle, zebras, impalas, hippopotamuses, and rhinoceroses.
Yellow-billed Oxpeckers have a yellow bill and a yellow ring of color around red eyes. Red-billed Oxpeckers have a red bill and red eyes. Both kinds of Oxpeckers have brown heads and bodies and are about 20 cm long. They have strong feet.
Oxpeckers have been classified as mutualistic animals. They feed on ticks and parasites on the backs of their host mammals. These birds benefit by having food. The mammal hosts benefit by having bugs and small parasites removed from their bodies. Some academics consider them to be parasitic because they also feed on the blood of their host mammals. They feed on dandruff and earwax as well. Oxpeckers take hair from mammals to line their nests. Another benefit that mammal hosts have is these birds become very noisy and seem to warn their hosts when predators are nearby.
The mating season for these birds seems to be the rainy season. Nests are lined with hair from host mammals and grasses. Sheep are not a host mammal, but sheep hair is often used as well. Nests are often in tree holes. They can have two to five eggs, but three is often the usual number of eggs in their clutch.
Oxpeckers have a long history. Some say they are a living fossil. They have an ancient line and are related to mockingbirds, thrashers, and starlings. They may have originated in Eastern or Southeastern Asia. The open habitats of sub-Saharan Africa are where they now live. They are absent from the driest deserts and rainforests. They live in areas where preferred ticks and their animal hosts live.
Mutualistic animals are crucial aspects of ecology. Study of environments and relationships of animals are part of the political movement to protect environments. Be inspired! Have a bright day!