The oxpecker, known as the rhino’s guard, alerts its host to danger with a loud commotion
Oxpecker Scientific Classification
Scientific name
Buphagus erythrorhyncus & Buphagus africanus
Oxpecker Physical Characteristics
Brown, Grey, Yellow, Red
Up to 15 years
Up to 2 ounces
Oxpecker Distribition

The oxpecker, referred to as the rhinocerous’s guard, signals its host to threat with a loud turmoil!

The oxpecker hails below- Saharan Africa that invests a lot of its life on the backs of its hosts. It preys on ticks, larvae and various other bloodsuckers that infest huge animals like the black rhinoceros, African buffalo, hippopotamus and much more. Nonetheless, it likewise eats on their blood, earwax, mucous and various other secretions. These birds prevent most predators by socializing with their huge hosts and interacting in teams of 5 or 6 to increase their young. Their numbers are decreasing, and their best risks, however, originated from humans.

Unbelievable Oxpecker Truths

  • Oxpeckers are in some cases called tickbirds.
  • These species increase their young in teams of 5 or 6, with one reproducing set and a couple of assistants.
  • These starving birds can eat numerous ticks and approximately 12,000 larvae daily.
  • When both species of oxpeckers share area, the yellow- billed range are leading.
  • Rhinocerouses are 4 times as most likely to see a coming close to human if they are gone along with by these birds.
  • Pesticides indicated to remove bloodsuckers from animals are frequently harmful to oxpeckers.

Where to Locate Oxpecker

Both the red- billed and the yellow- billed species are located in the savannas of below- Saharan Africa in locations where there go to the very least some huge trees for nesting. They reside in locations with huge video game animals or animals, on which they rely.

The yellow- billed oxpecker varieties from the western shore of Senegal throughout the continent towards Kenya, and southern in dispersed locations completely to South Africa. They reside in altitudes from water level approximately 9.800 feet. The red- billed oxpecker is located on the eastern side of Africa, from Ethiopia to South Africa. The varieties of both species in some cases overlap.

Oxpecker Scientific Name

Both species of oxpeckers are the only participants of the genus Buphagus and the family, Buphagidae. Buphagus is originated from the Greek words, “bous,” indicating ox or cow, and “phago,” which describes consuming. The name makes good sense, offered the feeding practices of these birds.

The name of the yellow- billed oxpecker, Buphagus africanus, is quite clear. The red- billed oxpecker, Buphagus erythrorhyncus, makes good sense, also, considered that “erythro” suggests red and “rhynchus” describes a nose or costs. The oxpeckers when came from the Sturnidae family, yet they were reassigned in 1828.

Oxpecker Appearance

Pesticides indicated to remove bloodsuckers from animals are frequently harmful to oxpeckers.

Nwdph/Shutterstock. com

Both species of oxpeckers are similar in appearance. They have brown- grey plumes with lighter underparts. Their legs are brief, and they have 3 sharp claws encountering ahead and one encountering backwards. Oxpecker feet are solid and superb for holding on to surface areas or climbing up. They likewise have rigid tail plumes, similar to those of a woodpecker, which aid them to stabilize. They have red eyes and intense expenses.

Yellow- billed oxpeckers have actually yellow expenses tipped in red. They do not have a wattle around their eye. Their rump is light in shade like their stubborn belly. Red- billed oxpeckers have a red costs, a yellow wattle around their eye, and a dark rump.

Both species have to do with the very same dimension, balancing roughly 8 inches in size. They consider near 2 ounces. Males and females of the species look similar, with males simply a little bigger.

Oxpecker Actions

Oxpeckers reside in tiny groups and invest much of their lives set down on the backs or heads of huge video game animals and animals. This is where they locate their food, communicate with various other birds in their neighborhood, and also rest when they are not active reproduction. Several of the host animals consist of the African buffalo, black rhinoceros, wildebeest and hippopotamus. Zebras and giraffes, warthogs and impalas are likewise typical hosts.

Oxpeckers do their ideal to prevent threat. They do not communicate with predators or primates, and are much less most likely to be located on elephants, potentially due to the fact that they might much more quickly knock them off with their lengthy trunks and tails.

Oxpeckers likewise aid their hosts to prevent threat, consisting of humans. The red- billed oxpecker is recognized in Swahili as “ Askari wa kifaru, the rhinocerous’s guard.” That is due to the fact that when the birds see a possible hazard, they respond with loud turmoil. Their blaring, crackling telephone calls notify their hosts to the coming close to threat. According to a research study carried out in 2020, black rhinocerouses gone along with by oxpeckers were 4 times as most likely to find coming close to humans than those without the birds.


The oxpecker diet is composed mostly of ticks, termites. tick and insect larvae, and various other bloodsuckers located on the skin of their favored host animals. They can eat hundreds or perhaps countless bloodsuckers daily. Occasionally they will certainly likewise capture flying insects on the wing.

Research study shows that oxpeckers not just eat bloodsuckers, they likewise eat the blood of their host animals. When scientists examined the connection in between residential livestock and oxpeckers in Zimbabwe, they located that there was no considerable distinction in the variety of ticks on the livestock despite the existence of the birds. Nonetheless, the livestock with the birds existing had dramatically much more injuries, and their injuries took a lot longer to recover than the livestock without oxpeckers. Scientist observes the birds eating injuries also eating tick add-on websites without really eliminating the ticks.

Along with blood, oxpeckers likewise eat dead skin, earwax, mucous, and various other secretions from their hosts.

Oxpecker Reproduction

Oxpeckers develop participating teams of around 5 or 6 birds to increase their young. These teams consist of one energetic reproducing couple with the remainder, normally previous children, functioning as assistants. They develop a mug- designed nest constructed from dried out turf or animal dung and animal hair inside a tree dental caries and seal up gaps or openings with even more dung. Yellow- billed oxpeckers typical 2 to 3 eggs, while the red- billed birds in some cases injured to 5.

Incubation takes about 12 or 13 days, and the nestlings fledge after around 25 to thirty days. The assistant birds and the moms and dads have a tendency to the young, eliminating fecal cavities and coverings from the nest and supplying food. After the nestlings fledge, the grownups in the team remain to take care of them till they get to freedom. The birds in the team can be hostile towards outsiders throughout the reproducing period, which can consist of approximately 3 broods annually.


Details on oxpecker predators is virtually difficult to locate. Maybe this is due to the fact that the birds develop such close partnerships with their host animals that the grownups remain in little threat from regular below- Saharan predators like lions, cheetahs, hyenas, or crocodiles. Nest predators, such as serpents, could be a higher hazard to the birds, yet with their participating reproduction actions, the nestlings are much better safeguarded than lots of various other species could be.

Life Expectancy of the Oxpecker

Oxpeckers can measure up to 15 years in the wild. The dimension of their population is unidentified. Although both the yellow- billed and red- billed oxpeckers are detailed as species of least concern on the IUCN Red Checklist of Endangered Species, researchers think their numbers are decreasing.

2 of the best risks that these birds encounter are the population decrease of their host animals and the prevalent use chemical pesticides on animals. Scientists approximate that approximately half of the huge animals in eastern Africa have actually been shed in the last half a century, primarily as a result of environment loss and searching. As the herds of host animals went away, so did the food resource for most of the area’s oxpeckers.

Chemicals consisting of arsenic and organophosphates have actually likewise confirmed harmful for oxpeckers and have actually brought about regional terminations. The preservation job, Procedure Oxpecker, has actually exerted over the last few years to record and transfer oxpeckers to locations where the birds when had durable populaces. Scientists are likewise aiding to inform farmers concerning much safer chemicals that will certainly shield their animals without hurting the birds.

Similar Animals

  • Wattled Jacana – This South American bird has a similar mutualistic connection to capybaras as the oxpeckers do to their hosts.
  • Cattle Egret – This remarkably versatile species can be located around the globe, frequently adhering to livestock or various other animals and consuming the insects they stimulate.
  • Brown – headed Cowbird – This North American bird has a historic connection with indigenous bison and livestock, consuming ticks, flies and various other parasites that aggravate its hosts.


  1. Science Direct / Current Biology, Available here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982220303535
  2. Oxford Academic / Behavioral Ecology, Available here: https://academic.oup.com/beheco/article/11/2/154/204658
  3. Sabi Sabi , Available here: https://www.sabisabi.com/blog/22656/why-so-rare/
  4. PLOS One, Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6112642/
  5. Siyabona Africa, Available here: https://www.krugerpark.co.za/krugerpark-times-3-19-south-africas-oxpeckers-23769.html

Relate animals

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

They are one of the oldest breeds of guinea pig

Ackie Monitor

The ackie monitor has a spiny tail which it uses as in self-defense.


The Albertonectes had the longest neck out of other Elasmosaurids.

American Bully

Though the American bully was bred to look intimidating, it makes an extremely friendly family pet!

Latest Animal News