Throughout history, certain species of birds have formed strategic partnerships with other animals. And these partnerships have seeming served both of them well. Here are just a few of those pairings.
One of these strange relationships is the one that wild pigs have with robins in Europe. Wild pigs are known for their digging ability. So much so, that many people refer to them as digging machines. And what they are digging for is root foods which they live on. They also feed on grubs and small worms that they find in the soil.
Over the years, the robin has noticed that whenever these wild pigs appear and start to dig up the ground, they are also digging up and exposing worms. As a result, robins have learned to stay close to these pigs as they begin to dig so they can scoop up the worms that appear on the surface.
In a like manner, the Nightjar has an interesting symbiotic relationship with wild cattle and goats in areas where the both live. For the most part, nightjars are birds of the night. Their primary diet consists of moths and beetles. The bird is a great aerial hunter and, even in mid flight, is capable of deftly snatching moths from the air. However, when it is on the ground, it is typically hunting ants and beetles.
During the passing of many hundreds of years, the nightjar has come to notice that when wild cattle and goats are grazing nearby, that their continuous moving around agitates the ground on which they are grazing. And as they do this, all of the activity causes insects to come above ground. So insects such as beetles and moths, are all of a sudden on the surface making them easy pickings for predators. As a result, the nightjar has learned that its often easier to follow the herds and feed off of the insects that they dig up than it is to hunt and scrounge for their own meals.
The oxpecker bird is yet another illustration of birds forming symbiotic relationships. The oxpecker is a close relation to the starling. And within Africa, this bird has a real working partnership with many animals – antelope, buffalo, rhinoceros, and even the giraffe. The relationship has to do with the fact that ticks and lice are very common in this environment.
They are a nuisance to these large animals because their eggs hatch on the animal’s surface and immediately becomes a parasite by gorging on their blood. If an animal gets enough of these on its skin, it can find its strength and staminal slowly being drained away.
Oxpeckers love these parasites because they contain lots of blood which has a ton of nourishments. They comb through the skin and hairs of these large animals and consume all of the ticks and lice that they find. A win/win for everyone.