Feeling more than a little peckish: Birds jostle to eat fleas from backs of antelope

By Lucy Buckland

Form an orderly queue! Bank myna birds graze on fleas from the antelope's fur in Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan, India

It was definitely a case of you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours as these birds queued up to snack on fleas from the backs of strolling antelopes.

And these nilgai antelopes were more than happy to provide a resting place for dozens of bank myna birds who plucked irritating fleas from their backs in Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan, India.

The nilgai were feeding in their grassland home when the birds decided they wanted a snack of their own and landed on their backs, necks and heads.

Photographer Chhotu Khan, who lives in the national park, said it was a rare phenomena for all the birds to land in such a formation.

Amazingly, the nilgai did not seem at all bothered by the birds pecking at their fur.

Mr Khan, 28, said: 'I was there to do some bird watching when I saw a flock of bank mynas fly from nearby trees and land on the nilgais' backs. They landed on all the nilgai, including the juveniles.

I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine: The antelope looked more than happy to have the birds on their backs in these stunning photos

'The birds fed on fleas and other bugs, cleaning the nilgai of these harmful insects.

'The birds sat there for 20 to 25 minutes and I was very happy to get this shot because it does not happen very often.

'The nilgai do not get irritated because they know that the birds are doing them good. I did not see them making much of an effort to get away from the birds.'

He added: 'Wildlife is so unpredictable and you never know what you may experience and that is the beauty of this.

'I was very happy to be able to capture the birds and the relationship between the species.'

Grazing: It was a lengthy snack for these bank myna birds who stayed on the antelope's back for around 25mins



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