Bright red or yellow beaks
|“||Kifaru: My eyesight's worse than most rhinos!|
Ono: That's why rhinos partner with tickbirds. The tickbirds ride on the rhinos and warn them about dangers that the rhinos can't see!
Tickbirds are small, thin, crescent-shaped birds with elongated beaks and thin legs. Their feathers consist of varying shades of brown, with lighter color along their chests and necks, and darker color on their tails and wings. Their eyes are rimmed with yellow, and are generally colored either black or red. Most tickbirds have yellow beaks with red tips, though Mwenzi is known to have a beak that is entirely red.
Tickbirds are well-known for their partnership with rhinoceroses. While the rhinoceroses allow the tickbirds to eat the ticks off their backs, the tickbirds stand in for the rhinos' poor eyesight and guide them visually. Generally, tickbirds position themselves on the rhinos' backs and warn them of dangers that they cannot see. Other duties may include alleviating itches, fetching food, or keeping rhinos near a source of mud to avoid overheating.
Every wet season, tickbirds guide rhinos to Tamasha, an event near Lake Matope where rhinos will spar with one another in the mud. During the event, the tickbirds remain on the rhinos' backs and ensure that they are facing in the right direction.