Bio Facts: Thick-knee, Cape
Eastern and southern Africa
Dry savannah and grasslands, bare sandy and stony areas, usually avoiding water
This largely terrestrial bird has large spots on its back and a barred tail. Leg joints are knobby. Eyes are large and yellow. Face is brown, and bill is black. Breast is cinnamon streaked and spotted with blackish-brown.
In the wild, they eat insects, crustaceans, mollusks, frogs and some seeds. In the Zoo, they are fed crickets, mealworms, dog chow and fruit.
Cape thick-knees are monogamous birds and solitary nesters. The incubation period is 24 days, and the clutch size is usually 2 eggs. Both parents incubate, feed and protect the young.
Sometimes they are seen in organized flocks of 40-50 birds. On hot days, they lie on the ground with their feet outstretched behind them.
Males are quite vocal and aggressive. Both parents will defend the nest.
Their coloring is good camouflage for their environment.
Defensive behavior can be an adaptation. To lure a predator away from the nest or young, one of the parents may flop helplessly on the ground, pretending to have a broken wing. After catching the predator’s attention, this parent lures the predator away. When the nest and young are out of harm’s way, the parent miraculously recovers and flies away unharmed, leaving behind a bewildered predator.
This bird is also referred to as the spotted thick-knee
The Cape thick-knee is relatively common in the wild.
Jacksonville Zoo History:
This species has been part of the animal collection since June 1990. It has successfully reproduced here.