The Yellow-billed Oxpecker is exactly as its name describes. It has a yellow bill and it pecks and feeds off Oxen.
As can be seen, by the picture below right, it also has a bright red tip on its beak. Although named an Oxpecker, it’s not fussy and will indeed partner with cattle, antelope or indeed any mammal willing to allow it to feed on their body.
Where is the Yellow-billed Oxpecker found?
The Yellow-billed Oxpecker is found a short stroll away from Footsteps in the farmer’s fields, or anywhere there are cattle.
It is native to the savannah of Sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal east to Sudan.
In The Gambia for example this delightful bird is widespread and also generally fairly common.
What does it look like?
The Yellow-billed Oxpecker is 20 cm (7.9 in) long and has plain brown upperparts and head, buff underparts and a pale rump. The feet are strong. The adults’ bills are yellow at the base and red at the tip, while juveniles have brown bills.
What does it feed on?
They feed on insects, ticks and larvae. However, their preferred food is blood, and while they may take ticks bloated with blood, they also feed on the animal directly, pecking at their wounds until blood flows. however cruel this seems, mammals generally tolerate Oxpeckers.
Want to know an interesting Factoid?
In a day just one adult Yellow-billed Oxpecker will eat more than 100 engorged female Boophilus decoloratus ticks or up to 13,000 larvae. And non-breeding birds will roost on their hosts at night. That’s a big favour to the Oxen because it keeps them free of disease from the ticks.
How does it sound?
It attracts attention to itself with a hissy, crackling Kriss, Krisss.