Friday, March 7, 2008
Stone-curlews or Thick-knees are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia.
They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow black bills, large yellow eyes—which give them a reptilian appearance—and cryptic plumage. The names Thick-knee and Stone-curlew are both in common use, the preference among authorities for one term or the other varying from year to year. The term Stone-curlew owes its origin to the broad similarities with true curlews (which are not closely related). Thick-knee refers to the prominent joints in the long yellow or greenish legs and apparently originated with a name coined in 1776 for B. oedicnemus, the Thick-kneed Bustard.
Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats. They are largely nocturnal, particularly when singing their loud wailing songs, which are reminiscent of true curlews.
The diet consists mainly of insects and other invertebrates. Larger species will also take lizards and even small mammals.
Most species are sedentary, but the Stone Curlew is a summer migrant in the temperate European part of its range, wintering in Africa.