Oxpecker, Hoopoe, Penguin and Parrot

The Red-billed Oxpecker (7 ½"-8 ½”) is in the starling and myna family. However, some ornithologist think it could be in a family by themselves.  Their English and scientific names arise from their habit of perching on large wild and domesticated mammals and eating ticks – ‘a parasite-cleaning service'.  An adult can consume 100 blood-engorged female ticks and nearly 12,000 larva in a day. They also continue to peck at open sores giving strong evidence that blood is the birds' preferred food.  

The African Hoopoe (9 ½”-11 ½”) is an exotic looking bird instantly recognized by its long, decurved bill, distinctive ‘crown’ or ‘crest’ of black-tipped feathers, and its rich chestnut coloring contrasted by the black and white stripes of its wings and tail.  Characterized as not being sociable birds, they have an oil gland which produces a foul smelling secretion.  They forage on the ground and prefer insects and beetles.

The African Penguin (24"-27") is a flightless sea bird and the only penguin that breeds in the South African region.  They are endangered due to competition with pelagic fisheries, pollution, predation and disturbance at breeding colonies.  They are known as “Jackass Penguin”, because of the unique sound similar to a donkey braying. 

The Brown-headed Parrot (8 ½”-9”) is a predominantly green parrot with a uniformly grey-brown head.  They are shy, well camouflaged, and rarely seen when they are not flying from tree to tree.  They are popular in Aviculture - the practice of keeping and breeding birds and the culture that forms around it.