Great shots Duco, Impisi08. I especially enjoyed the image of the young bird with adult.
I composed a bit of a overview of the RBOP and then saw that MARK CHOWLES had already posted the info in bullet format.
Well I am not going to chuck my work away... Appologies, MARK CHOWLES!
The Red-billed Oxpecker is a medium-sized passerine, 20 cm long with strong feet. It has plain brown upperparts and head, buff underparts and a pale rump. The bill is red, and adults have a yellow eyering, both clear distinctions from the related Yellow-billed Oxpecker. Their flight is strong and direct, and the call is a coarse, hissy truk-quizzz
Distribution and habitat:
They have suffered persecution in the past and disappeared, as did many of their large mammal hosts, from many places in their original range, a broad distribution across sub-Saharan Africa. Now they are common residents in game reserves, but scarce elsewhere.
Association with large mammal hosts runs deep into oxpeckers' lives: they travel with the herds, feed almost exclusively on their parasites, rest and preen, court and mate on them and may even sleep on them at night. BROs use their strong feet to cling onto their hosts and apply their bills to make quick scissoring movements combing through the hair.
They also spend lots of time working deep in the ears (sometimes only the tail shows) or around the muzzle, eyes or nose of their hosts. Most hoofed animals seem indifferent to this foraging but elephants and a few species of antelope will not tolerate them. BROs spend most of their lives on their hosts, using them for protection from predators (such as moving to the back side of the animal when approached) and sitting on them to roost and preen.
They forage in small flocks on large mammals eating ticks, fleas, flies, adult and larvae alike, and other parasites which lodge in mammalian skin and must be dug out. An adult will take about 100 bloated female ticks, or 10,000 larvae in a day. They also consume wound tissue, blood and other secretions. The BRO will also clean wounds, but its useful parasite control is partially negated by its tendency to keep wounds open or create new ones.
Breeding and nesting:
They make their nests in holes, often in trees, built with dung and lined with hair plucked from their hosts and they lay 2-5 eggs, but on average three eggs. BROs are gregarious and breed semi-colonially and cooperatively.