The Yellow-billed Oxpecker and the giraffe

on 9th November 2010

Mark Chua a.k.a. cajuca was in Kenya recently and returned with images of the Yellow-billed Oxpeckers (Buphagus africanus) picking ectoparasites from the neck of a giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis).

Oxpeckers spend most of the daylight hours on the backs of large mammals in the African plains. They usually forage in small groups of up to 20 birds, sometimes together with Red-billed Oxpeckers (B. erythrorhynchus). These two species are easily differentiated by the colour of the bill – red in red-billed and yellow with a red tip in yellow-billed.

These birds feed on lice, fly larvae and leeches picked off the mammals’ surface. They also feed on blood if there are open wounds on the animals and mucous from the nose and ears. Away from the mammals, the birds catch flying horseflies and blackflies.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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