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The Mighty Oxpecker

Learn about the Oxpecker on this Moment of Science.

Have you ever heard of the mighty oxpecker? Well, oxpeckers, which are also called tickbirds, have sharp claws that allow them to grab onto the backs of large mammals, such as the rhinoceros. Luckily, the hosts hardly notice them. Oxpeckers use their broad, thick beaks to pick out ticks and other parasites from the rhino’s skin.

Oxpeckers also pick at scabs on the rhino’s back and feed on the blood. In turns out that they are so adapted to life on their host’s back that they even mate there. Bravely, the oxpeckers also help rhinos sense intruders by shrieking when they spot a lion or some other predator.

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