Great Thick-knees

Great Thick-knees

The Great Thick-knees (Esacus recurvirostris) is a very large wader that is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka into Southeast Asia.

This is a species of gravel banks along rivers or near lakes, and also beaches. A single egg is laid in a bare scrape on the open shingle.

Three Great Thick-knees on the Grassy Field
Three Great Thick-knees on the Grassy Field

It is mainly nocturnal or crepuscular (active during the twilight) like other stone curlews, but can frequently be seen foraging by daylight, moving slowly and deliberately, with occasional short runs.

It tends to be wary and fly off into the distance ahead of the observer, employing powerful, rather stiff wingbeats.


Physical Description

The Great Thick-knees is a very large wader at 49–55 cm, and has a massive 7 cm upturned bill.

It has unstreaked grey-brown upperparts and breast, with rest of the underparts whitish. The face has a striking black and white pattern, and the bill is black with a yellow base. The eyes are bright yellow and the legs a duller greenish-yellow.

In flight, the Great Thick-knees shows black and white flight feathers on the upperwing, and a mainly white underwing. Males and females look alike, but young birds are slightly paler than adults.

Great Thick-knee in the Swamp
Great Thick-knee in the Swamp

Calls / Vocalization

The call is a wailing whistle, given mainly at night, as with other birds in this family.


Diet / Feeding

The Great Thick-knees eats crabs, large insects, and other animal prey.

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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