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Hippos & Oxpeckers

Botswana, Africa

Red-billed oxpeckers (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) atop a Hippo in the Okavango River. The oxpeckers feed almost exclusively on what they can collect from the skin of large African mammals. Their diet includes ixodid ticks, dead skin, mucus, saliva, blood, sweat, and tears. Although tick feeding has been the focus of much attention, the oxpecker's habit of feeding at open wounds has generally been ignored or regarded as having a negligible effect despite strong evidence that blood is the birds' preferred food. Photo © copyright by Robert Faucher.

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