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Red-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) on an African Buffalo or Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer). Near Olifants Camp. Kruger National Park. Mpumalanga. South Africa. The Red-billed Oxpecker, is a passerine bird in the starling and myna family Sturndidae; some ornithologists regard the Oxpeckers to be in a family by themselves, the Buphagidae. It is native to the savannah of sub-Saharan Africa, from the Central African Republic east to Sudan and south to northern and eastern South Africa. It nests in tree holes lined with hair plucked from livestock. It lays 2-5, average 3, eggs. Outside the breeding season it forms large, chattery flocks. The preferred habitat is open country, and the Red-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. An adult will take nearly 100 engorged female Boophilus decoloratus ticks, or more than 12,000 larvae in a day.
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