Family Oxpeckers (Buphagidae)

Least Concern

Yellow-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus africanus)


French: Piqueboeuf à bec jaune German: Gelbschnabel-Madenhacker Spanish: Picabueyes piquigualdo

Buphaga africana


, 1766,



Hybrids with B. erythrorynchus recorded in Zimbabwe. Proposed races megarhynchus (L Kivu, in E DRCongo) and somewhat larger haematophagus (Andara, on R Okavango, in NE Namibia) included in nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. a. africanus Linnaeus, 1766 – SW Mauritania and Senegal E to SW & SE Sudan, W & S South Sudan, NW Ethiopia and W Eritrea, also locally SW Angola (S from Huíla) and N & NE Namibia and, in E, very locally from Uganda and Kenya S to Zambia, Malawi, N Botswana, Zimbabwe, C Mozambique and NE South Africa.
  • B. a. langi Chapin, 1921 – Congo Basin in Gabon, Congo, W DRCongo, and W Angola (S to Benguela).
  • Descriptive notes

    20 cm; 57–71 g. Somewhat variable. Nominate race has dark brown to olive-grey head to throat, mantle, back, upper­wing and tail, contrasting light fawn rump and... read more


    No song described. Buzzing flight call, and high "peep peep" from circling and displaying birds;... read more


    Open savanna, but occurrence dependent on presence of suitable mammalian hosts. Spends virtually... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet primarily ectoparasites of large mammals, and includes ticks (Ixodoidea), lice (Anoplura), fleas (Siphonaptera) and biting flies (... read more


    Breeds Jun–Sept in Mauritania and Senegal, Apr–Aug in Nigeria, May–Jun in Sudan, mostly Dec–Jun in E Africa,... read more


    No direct studies; recolonization of Kruger National Park (in South Africa) from Zimbabwe indicates... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common, with extensive but fragmented range; categorized as "vulnerable" at S end of range. More localized than is B.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. (2020). Yellow-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus africanus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 February 2020).