Thickknees Burhinidae

Class: Aves Order: Charadriiformes Family: Burhinidae Number of species: 9 species



Thick-knees vary in size from 12.5 to 23 inches (32 to 59 centimeters) in length and 0.7 to 2.4 pounds (0.3 to 1.1 kilograms) in weight. Their heads are round, their necks are slender, and their bodies are large. Thick-knees have long legs, long tails, and a pointed bill. All thick-knees have large yellow or amber colored eyes and stripes either above the eyes, through the eyes, or below the eyes. Most species are a light sandy brown on top and pale on the belly. The wings are either solid-colored, striped, or spotted while folded. When thick-knees are flying, however, striking black and white patterns on the wings and tail are revealed. Males and females tend to be similar in both size and color. Young thick-knees are colored to blend into their stony or sandy habitats.


Thick-knees are found primarily in the Old World, including portions of Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Two species occupy parts of Central America and South America, and several species occur in Australia.


Many species of thick-knees are found in either grassland or brush habitats. Others occupy dry desert areas, usually adjacent to a river or stream. The beach thick-knee is found in seashore areas. One species, the Senegal thick-knee, lives in large cities such as Cairo, Egypt, where it finds appropriate nesting areas on the flat roofs of houses and other buildings.

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