Oxpecker : Poisoned to the limit?
There are two species of Oxpecker bird, Red-billed and Yellow-billed. Both species are widespread throughout Africa. These interesting birds survive by releaving Africa’s grazing wildlife from blood sucking ticks. Like other birds species oxpecker populations have been adversely impacted by relentless poisoning.
How Nikela Helps
Although Nikela does not have a project that directly protects the Opeckers many awareness campaigns address the plight of Africa’s endangered and threatened wildlife species as a whole. Actually Nikela is for preserving all wild things and their wild places.
Facts About Oxpeckers
The Red-billed oxpecker is native to the Savanna of sub-Saharan Africa, from the Central African Republic to Sudan and all of South Africa. This species can be found just about anywhere that there are roaming grazing herds. Yellow-billed oxpeckers are less common and are found in sub-Saharan Africa.
Red-billed oxpeckers have olive-brown or grey-brown upper parts, a red short, thick bill, red eyes with yellow circles of flesh around the eyes; light gray-brown wings and tail; tan or pale yellow rump and breast, and gray legs and feet. Their young have a dark bill and eyes, and a brown area around the eyes.
Yellow-billed oxpeckers are an exact replica except for their yellow beaks with a red tip.
The oxpecker’s diet consists of ticks and flies that feed on their hosts as well as a variety of insects found in rural areas. The adult then brings back a beak fulls of food to feed to their young.
These birds are highly social animals and often feed in flocks. They nest together in a tree in holes lined with hair from livestock. They lay 2-5 eggs and even help feed other chicks in the colony. During the say they travel in small groups. At night they return to their communal roost.
Conservation Status and Threats:
The Red-billed oxpecker is not an endangered species but poisoning in certain livestock farming areas nearly wiped it out. Slowly the oxpecker is beginning to re-establish itself in its rightful place of picking ticks off of many of Africa’s grazing wildlife. A decline in some of the grazing wildlife due to poaching and loss of habitat has decreased the food source for these birds.
Contributed by Nikela Volunteer Kaylee Padget
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