Buphagus


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Buphagus

 

a genus of birds of the family Sturnidae. There are two species, B. erythrorhynchus and B. africanus, which are found on the African plains south of Ethiopia. Because their diet consists of ticks, fly larvae, and other external parasites of hoofed animals, the birds are the constant companions of zebras, antelopes, buffaloes, and domestic cattle. The birds feed while crawling along the body of an animal. They hang on to the animals like woodpeckers, with their very sharp claws, and they support themselves on their stiff tails. Birds of the genus Buphagus also eat secretions from wounds on the animals’ skin, and, in doing this, it is possible that they mechanically introduce blood parasites into the wounds.