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You wrote:
>In the case of the  few modern birds that use larger mammals or reptiles for
>platforms,  many do it to pick pests out of the flesh of their rider thereby
>performing a useful (symbiotic) service to the beast. Others use such
>platforms as lookout posts (so I have been told) and  the "platform" gets
>nothing in return (commensalism) for the ride.

In the case of the "platforms" being used as lookout posts, they get in return
an "early warning system" from their riders, meaning if the riding birds are 
away, there must be trouble around, or something of that sort...