Family Thick-knees (Burhinidae)

Least Concern

Water Thick-knee (Burhinus vermiculatus)


French: Oedicnème vermiculé German: Wassertriel Spanish: Alcaraván acuático
Other common names: Water Dikkop

Oedicnemus vermiculatus


, 1868,

Lake Jipe, near Taita, Kenya


Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. v. buettikoferi (Reichenow, 1898) – Liberia to Nigeria and Gabon; sometimes claimed to occur E to Uganda.
  • B. v. vermiculatus (Cabanis, 1868) – DRCongo E to SC Somalia, and S to E & S South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    38–41 cm; 293–320 g. Similar to B. oedicnemus and B. senegalensis (and is syntopic with latter in parts of W Africa), but generally rather... read more


    Mainly vocalizes at night. A loud, rather strident but plaintive whistle, “ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-tee... read more


    Riverbanks and lake edges, estuaries and mangroves; also undisturbed, sheltered beaches; prefers... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on insects, crustaceans and molluscs. Nocturnal and terrestrial feeder; sometimes feeds on dirt roads at night. Feeds by tilting... read more


    Season variable, but generally dry season and early rains in S Africa; Sept–Jan in Liberia; Jan, Apr and May in Ghana; Aug in Somalia... read more


    Sedentary, apart from some local movements to avoid flooding and occasional records outside normal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Very little precise information available, partly due to secretive habits, and, in N of range, confusion with very similar B.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hume, R. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Water Thick-knee (Burhinus vermiculatus). 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 23 August 2019).