Family Thick-knees (Burhinidae)

Near Threatened

Beach Thick-knee (Esacus magnirostris)


French: Oedicnème des récifs German: Rifftriel Spanish: Alcaraván piquigrueso australiano
Other common names: Beach Stone-curlew

Œdicnemus magnirostris


, 1818,

Depuch Island, Western Australia


Formerly awarded monospecific genus Orthorhamphus. Closely related to E. recurvirostris, with which in past occasionally considered conspecific. Considerable confusion concerning correct nomenclature resulted in proposals to adopt either giganteus or neglectus as valid species name, when taxon placed in Burhinus; when treated in Esacus, however, magnirostris is not preoccupied, and is the valid name#R. Monotypic.


Andaman Is and Malay Peninsula E through Philippines, Wallacea and New Guinea to Australia and SW Pacific islands (E to Vanuatu and New Caledonia).

Descriptive notes

51–57 cm; male 870–1130 g, female 980–1020 g. Massive, thick-set thick-knee with heavy head and stout bill; head boldly marked with black, white and grey-... read more


Mainly vocal at night. Territorial call a repeated bisyllabic whistle “kee-wee” or “kee-loo”,... read more


Exclusively coastal, on islands and mainland beaches; in Melanesia is commonest on small islands... read more

Food and feeding

Probably feeds almost exclusively on crabs, where these are readily available; also takes other small crustaceans, e.g. barnacles reported... read more


Breeds Sept–Nov in temperate Australia, Apr–Nov further N (e.g. late Apr in W Java, mid Nov on Flores). Probably monogamous.... read more


Essentially sedentary, but some vagrants far S of usual range; some pairs observed on same area of... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Very widespread, but generally rather sparsely distributed. Total population of Australia estimated at c. 5000... read more

Recommended citation

Hume, R., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Beach Thick-knee (Esacus magnirostris). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 April 2019).