Tuesday, 19 May 2015

WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY - Birds on Hippos at Vwasa Lodge Malawi (Part 9)

As I mentioned yesterday, these birds in this post today play ‘Piggy back’ on Hippos and are called Yellow- billed Oxpeckers which we saw in Vwasa Lodge Safari Park, Malawi.  There is a VIDEO at the end where you will see them.


As these birds are quite small as they were very far away, this photo below is from Wikipedia for you to be able to see it better.


The yellow-billed oxpecker is 20 cm 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. Its flight is strong and direct. The call is a hissy, crackling krisss, krisss.


The yellow-billed oxpecker eats insects and ticks. Both the English and scientific names arise from this species' habit of perching on large wild and domesticated mammals such as cattle and eating arthropod parasites. It will also perch on antelopes such as wildebeest. In a day an adult will take more than 100 engorged female Boophilus decoloratus ticks or 13,000 larvae.


However, their preferred food is blood, and while they may take ticks bloated with blood, they also feed on it directly, pecking at the mammal's wounds. So the good the bird does to the mammal may be negated by its keeping the wounds open to parasites and disease. Whatever the net result, mammals generally tolerate oxpeckers.



The yellow-billed oxpecker nests in tree holes lined with hair plucked from livestock. It lays 2–3 eggs. Outside the breeding season it is fairly gregarious, forming large, chattering flocks. Non-breeding birds will roost on their host animals at night.






CLICK HERE if the video does not appear below.



Hope you enjoyed this post.

I am linking this post with WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY.

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Many thanks for all the comments you leave on this post.

23 comments:

  1. Cool, I love the hippos and the oxpeckers.. They are cool birds. Great photos and video. Have a happy day, Margaret.

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  2. I think I'd go mad being constantly pecked at all day!

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  3. oh, i was all for 'em until you mentioned they'll pick at open sores. ouch!!

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  4. Hi Margaret,
    Lovely series of the Hippos.
    The video is really great.

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  5. Oh my goodness! I guess the oxpeckers have their good and bad points. ;))

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  6. Oh my gosh!! I have never heard of blood eating birds!! I know there are bats that do this, but birds? And they have blood red eyes, too. Loved learning this strange fact today!

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  7. It's a fascinating relationship between the oxpeckers and it's various host. I wonder if the host allows them to drink from the open flesh wounds to remove infected blood/tissue?

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  8. Wow- I guess I never imagined a bird would eat blood as food! How far away were you from the hippos? I've always heard that they are very dangerous. Great photos!

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  9. Never mind, I watched the video and I see you were on shore. :)

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  10. Don't you just love the baby hippo ears only just visible, obviously learning from an early age keep low, avoid the oxpeckers!
    Wren x

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  11. Great post Margaret, the Yellow- billed Oxpeckers and the Hippos, lovely video.

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  12. Good grief, what a great thing to learn about this afternoon. We live in an amazing world. Thanks for bringing a different part of it to my attention!

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  13. oh how cute, harmony in nature!!!

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  14. Amazing how some animals live in such harmony. It is a beautiful world.

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  15. Wonderful amazing video and images. Another bird I have never seen before.

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  16. An amazing little bird and great photos of the birds and the hippos.

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  17. Mother Nature: Always with the on the one hand, and then on then on the other hand!
    ~

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  18. The clean up crew. I didn't know they feed on blood.

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  19. Very exciting watching those hippos Margaret. Your photos were fantastic too. How very cool to see so many of them. The birds were very interesting too.

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  20. Great shots of the hippos and oxpeckers. A great example of the symbiotic relationship between species.

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