Family Thick-knees (Burhinidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Thick-knee (Burhinus oedicnemus)


French: Oedicnème criard German: Triel Spanish: Alcaraván común
Other common names: Eurasian Stone-curlew

Charadrius Oedicnemus


, 1758,



Until recently, considered conspecific with B. indicus. Non-parallel clines in size and coloration confuse subspecific definition and recent genetic study only partially supports current racial categories, with, for example, no differentiation between different populations in Canary Is#R; several other races proposed, including jordansi (Balearic Is), theresae (Morocco) and astutus (Persian Gulf region), all three normally included within saharae. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. o. oedicnemus (Linnaeus, 1758) – S Britain and Iberia E to N Balkans and Ukraine and Caucasus; winters in S of range and in Africa to Senegal E to Ethiopia.
  • B. o. saharae (Reichenow, 1894) – N Africa, Mediterranean islands, Greece and Turkey to Middle East, E to Iraq and S Iran.
  • B. o. harterti Vaurie, 1963 – R Volga delta area E through Transcaspia and Turkestan to Zaysan basin (E Kazakhstan), and S through C Iran to Pakistan (probably to W of Indus Valley)#R; winters from NE Africa to SW Asia.
  • B. o. distinctus (Bannerman, 1914) – C & W Canary Is (except La Gomera).
  • B. o. insularum (Sassi, 1908) – E Canary Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    40–44 cm; 290–535 g; wingspan 77–85 cm. Sandy brown with white belly and vent, upperparts streaked darker; head finely streaked dark, with whiter lores,... read more


    Mainly vocal in twilight and at night, with nocturnal choruses lasting up to 30 minutes and audible... read more


    Semi-arid, arid and steppe grassland, open Argan (Argania spinosa) woodland (in Morocco),... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly terrestrial invertebrates and small vertebrates: insects and their larvae, especially beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, earwigs... read more


    Breeds in spring in most of range, Mar–Jun in N Africa, Apr–Jun in Palestine, Jan–Jun in Canary Is (mainly Feb–Mar... read more


    N European and C Asian populations migrate in autumn to S Europe, Middle East and beyond into... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread but restricted to small areas of suitable habitat, often widely separated. European population estimated at 41,000–... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hume, R. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Eurasian Thick-knee (Burhinus oedicnemus). 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 27 January 2020).