The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Red-billed Oxpecker

Afrikaans name: Rooibekrenostervoël

A Red-billed Oxpeckers on the back of a zebra in Hluhluwe Game Reserve. It has fresh dung in its bill which will presumably be used as nesting material.

Photo © Steven Herbert

Buphagus erythrorhynchus

Oxpeckers are part of the Starling family.

Male and female look the same. Juveniles have a black bill and lack the yellow ring around the eye.

Red-billed Oxpeckers nest in cavities in trees where between 2 and 5 eggs are laid.

Oxpeckers feed mainly on ticks and blood. While it would seem that it is beneficial to the mammal to have ticks taken off it, the Oxpeckers do have a habit of keeping wounds open.

These birds are found in woodland and savanna.

The Red-billed Oxpecker is a common sight in game reserves like Kruger National Park. They can be seen clambering around the backs, necks, heads and butts of larger mammals such as Burchell's Zebras, Giraffes and Impala. They are also found on cattle in some farming areas.

Two species of Oxpecker are found in South Africa and they are similar in looks. The Red-billed Oxpecker is far more common than the Yellow-billed Oxpecker. The Red-billed Oxpecker has yellow round its eye and a completely red bill.

A group of Red-billed Oxpeckers on the back of a Kudu in Kruger National Park

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 23

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 194

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 317

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 176

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 2011 - Page: 404

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1993 - Page: 678

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 370

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 532

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1985 - Page: 680

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 520

Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southe - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Published: 1991 - Page: 413

Meeting with Birds - Author: Tom Spence - Published: 1986 - Page: 102

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 388

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 388

Questions and Answers - Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Published: 1990 - Page: 26

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 290

Game Ranger in your Backpack - Author: Megan Emmett and Sean Pattrick - Published: 2013 - Page: 178

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Published: 1991 - Page: 196

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 243

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Published: 1999 - Page: 75

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 108

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 259

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 200

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 111

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1975 - Page: 42

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 42

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Published: 1983 - Page: 281


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List of South African Birds

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