oxpecker

noun
ox·​peck·​er | \ ˈäks-ˌpe-kər How to pronounce oxpecker (audio) \

Definition of oxpecker

: 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

Examples of oxpecker in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The relationship between rhinos and oxpeckers goes way back. Sara Kiley Watson, Popular Science, "Rhinos pay a painful price for oxpecker protection," 16 Apr. 2020 Indeed, out of 100 rhino sightings, just 17 had oxpeckers perched on them. Eva Botkin-kowacki, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘Psst! The poachers are coming.’ How tiny birds tip off rhinos.," 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, "‘Psst! The poachers are coming.’ How tiny birds tip off rhinos.," 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, "Rhinos pay a painful price for oxpecker protection," 16 Apr. 2020 Of those sightings, the majority—56—recorded oxpeckers perched on the animal’s hide. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 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, "African buffalo," 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, "Why the World Needs Bloodsucking Creatures," 2 Dec. 2019 Not so fast–those oxpeckers are washing the bugs down with a healthy helping of blood. Kat Eschner, Smithsonian, "Those Little Birds On The Backs Of Rhinos Actually Drink Blood," 22 Sep. 2017

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.

See More

First Known Use of oxpecker

1837, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about oxpecker

Time Traveler for oxpecker

Time Traveler

The first known use of oxpecker was in 1837

See more words from the same year

Statistics for oxpecker

Cite this Entry

“Oxpecker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oxpecker. Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on oxpecker

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about oxpecker

Comments on oxpecker

What made you want to look up oxpecker? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!