Family Thick-knees (Burhinidae)

Near Threatened

Great Thick-knee (Esacus recurvirostris)


French: Grand Oedicnème German: Krabbentriel Spanish: Alcaraván piquigrueso indio
Other common names: Great Stone-curlew

Œdicnemus recurvirostris


, 1829,



Closely related to E. magnirostris, with which in past occasionally considered conspecific. Monotypic.


SE Iran and from Pakistan through Indian Subcontinent (including Sri Lanka) to Indochina and Hainan (S China); perhaps also SW Afghanistan (confirmation needed).

Descriptive notes

41·5–54 cm; c. 790 g; wingspan 90–100 cm. Large, massive thick-knee with proportions somewhat recalling bustard; unstreaked greyish upperparts; face... read more


Gives somewhat wailing and accelerating series of whistles in territorial defence and display,... read more


Riverbed shingle and rocks, stony banks and mud (in preference to sand) around large lakes;... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds mainly on crabs (e.g. Grapsus sp.) and other crustaceans; also insects, and record of eggs of Kentish Plover (Charadrius... read more


Laying Feb–Jul in India, late Mar–Jun in Pakistan, mainly Apr–Jul in Sri Lanka; elsewhere, Mar in Bangladesh and early... read more


Sedentary, apart from local movements forced by rising water levels in rivers and lakes, and... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened, mainly owing to precipitous declines in SE Asia. Apparently still locally common, forming small parties after... read more

Recommended citation

Hume, R. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Great Thick-knee (Esacus recurvirostris). 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 20 August 2019).