Once cheered as a step forward for safety, the efficacy in reducing fatalities of the Red-Billed Oxpecker’s ‘hands-free’ operational mode is now being called into question. One recent study has indicated that the simple presence of an Oxpecker while browsing increases chances of predation by upwards of thirty percent! To their credit, Oxpecker manufacturers admit that one should not use any bird that may lead to distraction while performing dangerous activities like being a prey animal in the wilds of South Africa.
“Young Grackles” 5" x 5" oil There’s nothing quite like having a pile of young birds (in this case, Common Grackles) descend upon your yard, with their curious, clumsy, confused ways. This group I observed seemed especially fresh and clueless, trying nibbles of plants and twigs before getting it right by cracking seeds I’d offered. This stage of adolescence in birds is especially endearing to me.