Spotted Thick-knee

©Karl Svendsen
©Karl Svendsen


Spotted thick-knee - Burhinus capensis

Also known as a Cape thick-knee or spotted dikkop

Spotted Thick-knee Appearance

The spotted thick-knee is a medium sized bird, standing at around 40 cm in height. Males and females are alike, with brown heads, short plover like, with a yellow and brown beak. The head and back have brown to black streaks. There is a dark streak that runs from the eye to the ear coverts and a white streak below the eye. This thick-knee has a spotted upper body, with brown, white and black spots. The large yellow eye and long green legs, with apparent thick knees, stand out on this bird.


The spotted thick-knee is an omnivore, feeding on insects, small rodents, lizards and grass seeds.

Spotted Thick-knee Breeding

The spotted thick-knee is monogamous with the male becoming aggressive and territorial when breeding. A nest of twigs and leaves is built on the ground, lined with small stones, normally placed under a bush. They lay between one and three eggs, that are incubated by both parents for around 26 days.

Spotted Thick-knee Behaviour

The spotted thick-knee is often found on the ground. When they fly, it is normally with rapid wing beats. They are normally found either singly or in pairs. These birds are well camouflaged and rely on this to avoid predators. Thick-knees are mostly nocturnal.



Spotted Thick-knee Distribution and Habitat

The spotted thick-knee is found throughout South Africa. They are found in a variety of habitats, ranging from grasslands, semi-desert and urban areas.