The Mystery Bird “Yellow-Billed Oxpecker”

The yellow-billed oxpecker “Buphagus africanus” is a beautiful passerine bird in the starling and myna family, Sturnidae. The name “oxpecker” is related to their habit of perching on large wild and domestic mammals. The yellow-billed oxpecker is 20 cm long and has plain brown upperparts and head, buff underparts and a pale rump. In a day an adult bird will take more than 100 engorged female Boophilus decoloratus ticks or 13,000 larvae. It frequently occurs in association with wild and domestic large mammals. The species often roosts in trees close to these animals, or even on buffaloes’ back at night. The Yellow-billed oxpeckers live in small flocks and can be found at sea-level or in mountains as high as 9,800 feet. These African mystery birds are engaged in a rare behavior, even nesting on the back of a live Cape buffalo.
Some ornithologists regard the oxpeckers to be a separate family, the Buphagidae. It is least common in the extreme east of its range where it overlaps with the r…

The lazuli bunting (Passerina amoena) is a North American songbird named for the gemstone lapis lazuli.

The lazuli bunting (Passerina amoena) is aNorth American songbird named for the gemstone lapis lazuli. The male is easily recognized by its bright blue head and back (lighter than the closely related indigo bunting), its conspicuous white wingbars, and its light rusty breast and white belly. The color pattern may suggest theeastern and western bluebirds, but the smaller size (13–14 cm or 5–5.5 inches long), wingbars, and short and conical bunting bill quickly distinguish it. The female is brown, grayer above and warmer underneath, told from the female indigo bunting by two thin and pale wingbars and other plumage details. The song is a high, rapid, strident warble, similar to that of the indigo bunting but longer and with less repetition.

Lazuli buntings breed mostly west of the100th meridian from southern Canada to northern Texas, central New Mexico andArizona, and southern California. On the Pacific coast their breeding range extends south to extreme northwestern Baja California. They migrate to southeastern Arizona and Mexico. Their habitat is brushy areas and sometimes weedy pastures, generally well-watered, and sometimes in towns. These birds eat mostly seeds and insects. They may feed conspicuously on the ground or in bushes, but singing males are often very elusive in treetops. This bird makes a loose cup nest of grasses and rootlets placed in a bush. It lays three or four pale blue eggs. In the eastern and southern part of its range, it often hybridizes with the indigo bunting.

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