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Oct 8, 2016

The oxpecker...friend or foe?

Photo: Greenstock / Barcroft Images
The published the captivating photo above this week, of an impala with two oxpeckers in Kruger National Park, South Africa.   Oxpeckers have a mutually beneficial relationship with most of the large mammals in the park by eating parasites from their skins, but a lesser known fact is that they also eat earwax to aid in the bird's digestion!   Modern opinion on the relationship between the birds and the mammals is however split.   Many observers now point out that there are harmful side effects to the oxpeckers' ministrations and that the birds should actually be regarded as parasites.   The birds can open wounds on the animals' backs and enhance existing wounds in order to drink blood.   Charming.   Who needs friends like that?
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