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 Golden-Breasted Starling

The golden-breasted starling has been called the most beautiful starling in the world.  The golden-breasted starling (Lamprotornis regius) is a medium-sized, up to 35 cm long, passerine in the starling family. The Golden Breasted Starling is also known as royal starling and a social animal, living in groups of 3 to 12 individuals. The bird diet comprises mostly of insects and termites and some fruit of Commiphora and Dobera, though adult birds catch insects in flight and dig up termite mounds to find prey. They spend most of their time on the ground, running or hopping in their hunt for insects. To catch termites, they use rapid flicks of the bill to dig down to their tunnels. When disturbed, they will fly to the next bush. They infrequently fly above three metres.

The golden-breasted starling molts once a year, after the breeding season. The female usually lays between 3 to 5 pale green color eggs with red speckles.  The birds habitually make nests in tree holes which are made from leaves, roots, straw and other vegetation. Moreover the whole family groups cooperate in raising young by gathering food and nesting materials. The bird likes the rainy season for breeding, i.e. March to May and November to December. Therefore, during the hotter daylight hours, golden-breasted starlings will chatter away in a subdued voice with their mates. Their flight or contact call is cheeo cheeo. When signaling danger, they use chiar chiar.

The stunning golden-breasted starling is widely distributed in the grassland, savannah and shrub-land of East Africa, from Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and northern Tanzania. Furthermore, this species and L. unicolor sometimes placed in a separate genus, appears inseparable from birds in rest of species' range. Moreover, just like all starling species, golden-breasted starlings are highly social birds, noisy and garrulous when together. They gather in pairs or groups of up to a dozen. Though, during breeding season, group members assist with nest building and feeding. 

The both sexes are similar; however the young are duller than the adult. The adult bird has a metallic green head and upper back, bright golden yellow breast and belly, dark bill and legs, white iris and metallic violet blue on wings, back, neck and its long tail feathers. The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as locally common. The population trend appears to be stable, and it is widespread throughout its habitat range; hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. The bird is evaluated as being of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Unluckily due to its stunning colorations makes it easy for the wild bird trade to create a market for it. So, “Cosmopsarus regius” populations have come under pressure in some areas due to large-scale capturing. 

The bird tail is 60% of bird length would usually be its main feature, however starling coloration and vivid golden yellow covers the rest of the underparts including the thighs and under-tail coverts. Legs are black. This species is also known as the superb starling. Source: Charismatic Planet

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