Red-billed oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus)

Red-billed Oxpecker.Buphagus erythrorhynchus.
Photo taken by Jan Van Duinen

Oxpeckers will sit on certain mammals and target the ticks and other small parasites found on the skin and in the coats of these animals. Oxpeckers’ bills are especially adapted to their lifestyle. The bills are pointed as well as laterally compressed which helps the birds work their way through the coats of the mammals in a comb-like fashion and to pry out well embedded parasites.

The birds are also known to help clean-up open wounds. What they are after around the open sore is the rotting wound tissue. Oxpeckers are quite efficient at cleaning these lesions.

Their legs are also well adapted to a life spent perched on mammals. The legs are shortened to enable them to grip onto their moving hosts. Powerful toes and sharp nails further benefit the Oxpeckers in their quest to feed and as a spin off keep their mammal hosts’ parasite numbers under control.

The birds are also known to help clean-up open wounds. What they are after around the open sore is the rotting wound tissue. Oxpeckers are quite efficient at cleaning these lesions.

Their legs are also well adapted to a life spent perched on mammals. The legs are shortened to enable them to grip onto their moving hosts. Powerful toes and sharp nails further benefit the Oxpeckers in their quest to feed and as a spin off keep their mammal hosts’ parasite numbers under control.

The Redbilled oxpecker Buphagus erythrorhynchus, is one of only two species of birds in the family Buphagidae. It is a fairly common bird, found in the savannah grassland and semi-arid regions Kenya. The only other species in the Buphagidae family, the yellowbilled oxpecker, is far less common.

Redbilled oxpeckers only occur where there are animal hosts for the species of insects – mostly ticks – that the birds eat. The hosting animals are generally antelope like impala or kudu, or larger mammals such as zebra, giraffe, buffalo and rhino. In farmland areas, the hosts can also be domestic stock such as cattle. Elephants and a few species of small antelope will not tolerate the birds at all.

The Red-billed Oxpecker is a starling sized-bird. Although it is a fairly plain olive-brown with creamy under-parts, the bird is very easy to identify. Adults have totally red beaks and distinctive yellow rings around their bright red eyes. They have strong legs and long, particularly sharp claws which enable them to cling onto the sides and backs of their hosts at precarious angles. They also have short, stiff tails which are used as props. Aside from the colour, it is in the shape and action of their beaks that one sees the biggest differences between the two oxpecker species. The yellow billed oxpecker uses its stout beak to pluck parasites off its hosts. The red billed cousin uses its slimmer, flatter beak in a scissor-like motion to remove its meals. This same sharp beak is also used to peck at any sores or scabs on the host.

Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus)

Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus)
Photo@Tony Crocetta

Yellow-throated Longclaw is a stocky grassland bird, that has a tendency of up and down when flushed out, exposing the conspicuous white edged tail.When perched the bird has a V-shaped black band white a bright yellow throat.The head and the upper part of the bird is all brown with little white on the upper neck.Young birds appear more buff yellow with band of indistict short streak on the breast.In Kenya it is widely distributed in areas like Aberdare park, Solio Ranch, Nairobi National park and Masai Mara national reserve.

Bar-Tialed Trogon (Apaloderma vittatum)

Bar-Tialed Trogon (Apaloderma vittatum)
Stratton Hatfield

 

The Bar-Tailed Trogon is a stunning secretive long tailed forest bird that sits motionless for long periods often high in the canopy.It is similar to the more widespread Narina Trogon  found both in Forest and bushlands, but with blue breast band and barred tail.

The Bar-Tailed Trogon has the following features that aid identification.The adult bird has dark green and red plumage with a blue band across the breast.From behind the Bar-Tailed Trogon has a narrow tail with black and white edges while underneath the tail is entirely barred.That’s where it gets its name from.The adult female has dull brown head and breast while the immature ones have pale-tipped wing coverts. Due to its secretive nature, the bird is rarely seen in location like Kakamega forest, Kieni Forest, Mt.Kenya and Aberadare National Park.

 

 

 

 

Black-necked Weaver (Ploceus nigricollis)

@Michael Sammut

Black-necked Weaver appear in two races, P.n. nigricollis and P.n.melanoxanthus. Both species are widespread in moist secondary growth of western Kenya in area around Kakamega, Bunguma,  Lake Victoria and Masai Mara Game reserve.While spp menaloxanthus is uncommon in dry bush and woodland of Tsavo west and east, Amboseli,Lake Magadi, and Samburu. Male has deep golden-yellow head with black eyes;throat patch and nape also black with red-brown eyes with a back bill.Female has a prominent yellow supercilliary  stripes and not throat patch . Black-necked weaver is very similar to Dark-backed weaver (forest weaver) and Baglafecht Weaver.

Magpie Starling (Speculipastor bicolor)


The magpie starling is a northeast African endemic and an occasional non-breeding visitor to northeastern Tanzania. The male is black and white; the female, brown and white both with bright red eye which aid identification a great deal. The best place to see them in Kenya is Lake Baringo where is frequently spotted feeding in big fig trees along the cliffs.