Spot the Thick-knee bird

2019-07-03 06:02
Eggs laid on the ground (Picture taken from Roberts Nests & Eggs of Southern African Birds).PHOTO: Hugh Chittenden

Eggs laid on the ground (Picture taken from Roberts Nests & Eggs of Southern African Birds).PHOTO: Hugh Chittenden

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WE are requesting feedback on any possible observations of the Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis, previously called “dikkop”), particularly where they were observed, as part of a MSc research project in the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus.

Kyrone Josiah is investigating the prevalence of the Spotted Thick-knee in urban areas and their distribution across the urban landscape of Pietermaritzburg. The Spotted Thick-knee is an African bird species with a large distribution range in South Africa. Males and females look similar with physical body characteristics and colouration. Except for their smaller size, the juveniles look similar to the adults. The Spotted Thick-knee is omnivorous and feeds on grass seeds, small invertebrates (mainly termites and beetles) and even small reptiles but rarely small mammals. They are a ground nesting species with a variety of nest types from simple shallow scrapes in the ground to nests decorated with various materials such as twigs and even animal faeces. They are monogamous, laying two to four eggs at a time and producing one to three broods per season.

They occur in a range of environments from seashores to drier habitats like savannahs and grasslands. In urban areas they are typically, but not solely, found in open areas with short grass. They are a nocturnal species that is rarely active during the day, but if spotted in the morning and/or afternoon, they may be seen standing or sitting still.

If you know of any Spotted Thick-knee in your area, or if you have these birds in your garden, at your work, or school, etc., we would really appreciate it if you could let us know. Geographical locations (GPS points) of individuals or groups would be of great value for our study. Please contact Kyrone Josiah (e-mail: or Professor Colleen Downs (supervisor): or contact 033 260 5127 (w) at the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus, Scottsville.

— Supplied.


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