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…

Gray Hawk - 1st Record For California

A Santa Barbara birder saw a hawk perched on a wire in Carpinteria, California, November 25, 2012 and photographed it. He didn't recognize it as one of the local resident hawks and consulted with others as to the identity of this hawk, and it turned out that it was a juvenile Gray Hawk in its 2nd or 3rd year. This bird was a true vagrant and the 1st documented California record. The nearest area where this bird can be found in any numbers is Southern Arizona, Truly, this hawk was a long ways from home. It remained at this location into 2013 and then disappeared just before spring. Speculation was, would it return in the coming winter, and low and behold it did, and spent the winter of 2013 and 2014. Again it disappeared and everyone wondered. It again showed up in December, and is on course to spend the winter of 2014 and 2015. Not only did it return for the 3rd winter, it's in the same exact area where it was first found and photographed.

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