Family Thick-knees (Burhinidae)

Least Concern

Bush Thick-knee (Burhinus grallarius)


French: Oedicnème bridé German: Langschwanztriel Spanish: Alcaraván colilargo
Other common names: Bush Stone-curlew

Charadrius grallarius


, 1801,

New South Wales, Australia


Considerable confusion concerning correct nomenclature previously existed: species name traditionally given as magnirostris, but this is replaced by grallarius as the valid name, following the principle of First Reviser#R. This species is sometimes divided into three races, with recognition of rufescens (NW & NC Australia) and ramsayi (N Queensland), but these forms are poorly marked and species probably more realistically treated as polymorphic. Monotypic.


N & S Western Australia through Northern Territory to Queensland, then S to SE South Australia and Victoria; also Trans-Fly area of S New Guinea.

Descriptive notes

54–59 cm; male 580–860 g, female 530–710 g. Polymorphic, with rather similar grey and rufous morphs. Particularly long-legged, long-tailed thick-knee; slim... read more


Mainly vocal in twilight and at night. Territorial call a series of pure plaintive wailing whistles... read more


Open forest and woodland with clearings; also cleared ground with mixed farmland and woodland... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, molluscs, centipedes, crustaceans, spiders, amphibians, small reptiles and occasionally seeds. Nocturnal, but particularly active... read more


Breeds in spring, generally earlier in N than in S, e.g. laying Jun–Dec in Queensland, Aug–Jan in Victoria. Monogamous.... read more


Sedentary. No large-scale seasonal movements, but breeding territories break down during post-... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total Australian population estimated at c. 150,000 birds; fairly common but local in Trans-Fly area, S New Guinea, where range... read more

Recommended citation

Hume, R., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Bush Thick-knee (Burhinus grallarius). 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 16 January 2019).