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Cape Thick-knee

Burhinus capensis


Burhinidae, thick-knee family

Conservation Status:

Least concern, IUCN


Sub-Saharan Africa


Dry open country


Cape Thick-knees have long legs that appear to have thick knees, coining the phrase “thick-knees”. Although, the actual part that looks like a “thick knee” is not the knee, but the heel of the foot.

This medium sized yellow and brown bird stands about 17 inches and weighs about 4 oz. It has a short plover-like beak. The arrow-shaped head and parts of the back are covered with brownish-black streaks. It has large yellow eyes and long legs. Wings are brown and gray, tipped with black. It has long greenish-gray legs. The feet have three toes that are webbed and resemble a vulture’s foot.

This species is an omnivore. They will feed on a range of foods including, but not limited to, grass seeds, insects and other invertebrates, small lizards, rodents, snails, crabs and even an occasional frog or two.

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