Cape Thick-Knee

(Burhinus capensis)

Bird | South Africa

Spotted Dikkop

Animal Info

There are two cape thick-knees (also known as spotted dikkops) that reside at the Zoo, one male and one female. The male, born in 2010, arrived at the Zoo in 2011. The female was born in 2011 and arrived in 2012. The birds can be found in the aviary inside the Animals of the Savanna building.

Status in the Wild

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Least concern. Cape thick-knees show a remarkable ability to adapt to habitats altered by humans and because they are no longer considered a gamebird, they are unlikely to face any general decline in population.


From sub-Saharan Africa, the cape thick-knee is mainly found in open, flat habitats of southern Africa. This species prefers dry grassland and savanna habitat, although it has been known to live in wetland areas and can be found in woodland fringes, low stony hills and urban habitats (parks, playing fields, etc.).


The cape thick-knee eats mostly insects; foraging for them by repeatedly running forward, stopping, then jabbing the prey with their bill. Cape thick-knees will eat a variety of different beetles, weevils, moths and butterflies. They will also eat small amphibians, small mammals, thread snakes and white-fronted plover eggs and chicks.

Did you know?

The cape thick-knee can live up to 20 years in natural range.

Within one breeding season, the cape thick-knee often has two to three broods.

When threatened by a predator, young chicks will crouch down and remain motionless while the parent will pretend to have a broken wing, back or leg to distract the predator away from the chicks.

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