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Red-billed oxpeckers: vampires or tickbirds? These small birds feed almost exclusively on what they can glean from the skin of large African mammals. Their diet includes ixodid ticks, dead skin, mucus, saliva, sweat and tears, but most of all, the prefer blood! I found one "caught in action", drinking blood from a wound by the tail... The Red-Billed Oxpecker belong to the starling and myna family.
On White Rhinos close to a waterhole.
Their preferred food is blood, and while they may take ticks bloated with blood, they also feed on it directly, pecking at the mammal's wounds to keep them open to more parasites. Oxpecker/mammal interactions are the subject of some debate and ongoing research. They were originally thought to be an example of mutualism, but recent evidence suggests that oxpeckers may be parasites instead. (read more here http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/content...) Photo taken at Hlane Royal National Park, Swaziland