Water Thick-knee

Burhinus vermiculatus

The Water Thick-knee, or Water Dikkop, is a nocturnal bird species inhabiting riverbanks, lake shores, swamps, estuaries and occasionally beaches with sufficient cover in the form of shrubs and bushes. By day they hide in deep shade near the water. Their diet includes invertebrates like insects, crustaceans and molluscs, tadpoles and frogs, and seeds. They weigh about 300g, with a wingspan of about 75cm.

Outside of the breeding season the Water Dikkop congregates in groups of up to 30 birds. The breeding season usually coincides with the end of the dry season, preferring to nest on sand bars in low-flowing rivers or on the shores of other water bodies. The nest is just a scrape in the ground, usually adjacent to a rock, piece of driftwood or other similar structure, but the eggs and chicks are superbly camouflaged. 1-3 eggs are incubated by both parents for just over 3 weeks, with the chicks fledging at about 2 months old.

The Water Thick-knee has a wide, albeit patchy, distribution over Sub-Saharan Africa and is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. In South Africa the species occurs along the coast of the Cape Provinces, through large parts of Kwazulu Natal, into the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces, along the Limpopo Valley and south along the course of the Crocodile River into Gauteng.


15 thoughts on “Water Thick-knee

  1. Pingback: Satara Summer 2021 – Vervets versus Dikkoppe | de Wets Wild

  2. aj vosse

    Ek sien iemand anders het opgemerk dat op Engels ‘n kop eintlik ,n knie is! Dikkop gebore… dikkop sal hy bly! 😉
    (Ek meen… mens sal mos nie skierlik ‘n platkopreisieshoender ‘n platkniereisieshoender wil noem nie, of hoe?) :/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joanne Sisco

    I wondered about its unusual name “thick-knees” … at least until I saw his legs. How unusual that this small bird has the legs of much larger birds!
    … but given the expression on his face in the first photo, it appears he’s thinking ‘why do you have to call me that?’ 😉


  4. John

    I agree with the previous speaker regarding the name. 🙂 But it´s a beautiful bird, and I love all info you tell about your picture. I use to check Wikipedia because I´m curious, and there is not half so much info as t is i your posts! Great shots, Dries! 🙂



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