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Thick-Knees: Burhinidae

Beach Thick-knee (esacus Magnirostris): Species Account

Physical characteristics: The beach thick-knee is the largest species of thick-knee and ranges from 21 to 22.5 inches (53 to 57 centimeters) in length. It has thick yellow legs, a long, strong, bill, and yellow eyes. The beach thick-knee is gray-brown on the back and pale on the belly. The shoulder is black above a thin white line. The head is mostly black, with a white stripe through the eye. The bill is black except for a yellow base. There is a rust-colored patch under the tail.

Geographic range: The beach thick-knee is found in the Andaman Islands, the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, other Southwest Pacific islands, and the northern coast of Australia.

Habitat: The beach thick-knee is found on seashore beach habitats. These include sand, shingle, rock, and mud beaches.

Diet: The beach thick-knee eats crabs primarily, but also eats other crustaceans. Large crabs are torn into small pieces before they are swallowed. It generally follows its prey quietly, and then suddenly lunges and grabs. Sometimes, beach thick-knees also search in mud and sand for prey.

The beach thick-knee lives on seashore beach habitats. It eats mostly crabs, but also eats other crustaceans. (© V. Sinha/VIREO. Reproduced by permission.)

Behavior and reproduction: Beach thick-knees fly away when disturbed, usually over the water. Beach thick-knees are monogamous. The nest is usually a shallow depression that is sometimes surrounded by a ring of leaves. The female lays only one egg at a time. The egg hatches after thirty days. The chick is able to fly after twelve weeks, but may stay with its parents for as long as a year.

Beach thick-knees and people: No significant interactions between beach thick-knees and people are known.

Conservation status: The beach thick-knee is not currently considered threatened. However, habitat loss and disturbance may be a problem as beaches become more regularly used for human recreation. ∎



del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 3, Hoatzin to Auks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1996.

Perrins, Christopher, ed. Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2003.

Web sites:

"Burhinidae (Thick-knees)." The Internet Bird Collection. http://www.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/familia.phtml?idFamilia=58 (accessed on May 3, 2004).

"Family Burhinidae (Thick-knees)." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/classification/Burhinidae.html#Burhinidae (accessed on May 3, 2004).

"Thick-knees, Stone-curlews." Bird Families of the World, Cornell University. http://www.es.cornell.edu/winkler/botw/burhinidae.html (accessed on May 3, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsThick-Knees: Burhinidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Beach Thick-knee (esacus Magnirostris): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, THICK-KNEES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS