It is almost a year since I came across a lone Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis) in the road close to our house. Despite listening out for its distinctive rising and falling call, especially at night, and looking out for it at dusk, I have had no sign of its presence again.  The Addo Elephant National Park has proved to be a good place for seeing these birds, where it is best to look out for them in the late afternoon, or in the early morning. This one was photographed at Ghwarrie Dam shortly after sunrise last year.

Of course you may see one during the middle of the day, such as this one at the Spekboom Hide the year before.

They can stand so still that they aren’t always easy to see as their cryptic colouring helps them to blend into the background very well. I have read that their nests are simply a shallow scrape in the ground and so I have always imagined this would be well out of the way of foot traffic – never mind vehicular traffic. Imagine my surprise then at finding a Dikkop (I love its old name!) sitting right next to the edge of the gravel road called Harvey’s Loop.

It couldn’t have been closer to the edge of the road if it tried. I reversed to get a better look and was astounded to realise that it was sitting on eggs. As both parents sit on the nest alternately and the sexes look alike, I cannot tell whether this is Mr or Mrs!

You can clearly see the scrape in the ground containing two cryptically coloured eggs – with only the parent for protection. The incubation period for the eggs is about 24 days, with both males and females involved in the rearing of the chicks.

I felt I had disturbed it enough and drove away slowly, still marvelling at this wonderful sighting.

NOTE: Click on the photographs if you wish to get a larger image.

24 thoughts on “SPOTTED THICK-KNEE 2

    • They generally like to lay their eggs in a place with a good view all around. Several years ago a pair of these birds used to nest in the corner of a playing field at a nearby school. The area would be taped off to prevent the boys from getting too close and disturbing the birds, which clearly did not mind the cricket or general playing around that happened on the field. We also once came across a nest on a golf course.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting to think they might like human activity better than the possibly threatening silences of the veld or the bush.

        P.S. The name “Dikkop” is new to me,
        But I can relate to “Thick Knee”

        Liked by 1 person

  1. There were two of these living for several years on the front lawn of a house nearby. Sadly the front garden was re-modeled and the birds are gone …


  2. Ai, ek is so lief vir hierdie voëls – dankie vir die kostelike foto’s! Daar woon ‘n kolonietjie dikkoppe op ons kerkgrond in die middel van ‘n besige voorstad, waar mens saans hulle lieflike naggeluide kan hoor. Nog ‘n Afrikaanse benaming is “kommandovoël”: omdat hulle so raas wanneer hulle gesteur word, het hulle glo die kommando’s tydens die Boereoorlog gewaarsku wanneer ‘n Engelse mag in aantog was.


    • “Nog ‘n Afrikaanse benaming is “kommandovoël”: omdat hulle so raas wanneer hulle gesteur word, het hulle glo die kommando’s tydens die Boereoorlog gewaarsku wanneer ‘n Engelse mag in aantog was.” Ek het nou iets nuuts geleer – dankie daarvoor.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Spotted Thick Knees | albits

  4. I came here from Albert’s blog, and am delighted to learn about these interesting birds. Their nesting habits resemble those of our kildeer, which also prefer the ground. Do the young of this species hatch ready to ‘hit the ground running,’ so to speak? Kildeer babies hatch with their eyes open, and as soon as their feathers dry, they start following their parents and searching for food. They look rather like golf balls with very long legs; I’d bet that these chicks are equally precious.


    • Welcome, I am pleased you have paid a visit! Your Kildeers look like very pretty birds. The Thick-knee babies also ‘hit the ground running’ as you say – with no real nest to protect them, I think they must to survive.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is a favourite of mine too. How long it had been standing on the bank before I noticed it, I cannot tell. It didn’t mind being photographed.


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