October 15, 2013

I love the fact that these tiny yellow-billed oxpeckers and the huge Cape buffalo live their whole lives together - so I made them our Cool Photo of the Week.

The Cape buffalo and the oxpeckers live together in what is called a "symbiotic relationship," meaning that each of them benefits from being with the other. These birds live their entire lives on their hosts, except when they are nesting in the cavities of trees.

The birds keep the Cape buffalo clean, removing ticks and other insects that are burrowing into its hide. Oxpeckers also hiss when something frightens them, a useful warning to the buffalo, who is prey to other African animals.

The birds have a constant source of food in the insects they eat off the buffalo, and they are also relatively safe from predators when they are on their host animal.

Photographer Marsha Williams, who snapped these shots while on a photo safari in Kenya (Africa), told us: "I love that they are bold enough to go inside his ear and his nose. Kinda gross, but funny!"

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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