ox·​peck·​er ˈäks-ˌpe-kər How to pronounce oxpecker (audio)
: either of two small dull-colored African birds (Buphagus erythrorhynchus and B. africanus) of the starling family that feed on ticks which they pick from the backs of infested cattle and wild mammals

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The oxpecker birds seen on the giraffe's back and flying near it have a mutually beneficial relationship with the tall mammals. Carlyn Kranking, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Oct. 2022 The relationship between rhinos and oxpeckers goes way back. Sara Kiley Watson, Popular Science, 16 Apr. 2020 Indeed, out of 100 rhino sightings, just 17 had oxpeckers perched on them. Eva Botkin-kowacki, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 Apr. 2020 Even when oxpeckers were more plentiful, Dr. Knight says, the rhino population was being devastated. Eva Botkin-kowacki, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 Apr. 2020 But according to a recent study, protection could come from an unlikely source: The small but mighty oxpecker. Sara Kiley Watson, Popular Science, 16 Apr. 2020 Of those sightings, the majority—56—recorded oxpeckers perched on the animal’s hide. National Geographic, 9 Apr. 2020 Birds such as oxpeckers, for example, ride on the back of the buffalo and eat lice, fleas, and other parasites while getting a lift. Kylie Mohr, National Geographic, 9 Nov. 2019 The oxpecker birds of Africa pluck ticks and other insects off large mammals—and then slurp blood from their hosts’ sores. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, 2 Dec. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oxpecker.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1837, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of oxpecker was in 1837

Dictionary Entries Near oxpecker

Cite this Entry

“Oxpecker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oxpecker. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

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