Water Thick-knee in Uganda

March 25, 2024
News Journeys Uganda

Water Thick-Knee in Uganda: Uganda is home to a wide variety of bird species, and 4 species of Thick-knees, 3 of which are residents – namely the Spotted, Water and Senegal then the migrating Eurasian, here our focus is on the Water Thick-Knee, or Burhinus vermiculatus as it is scientifically known. This bird is very interesting and has a special position in Ugandan culture. Owing to its unique look, fascinating habits, and ecological importance, the Water Thick-Knee has come to represent Uganda’s rich bird life.

What to Know about the Water Thick-knee in Uganda?

A medium-sized wading bird in the Burhinidae family, the Water Thick-Knee is also called the Water Dikkop. Because of its huge, enlarged knees, which are suited to its aquatic and terrestrial habits, it gets its name. Its legs can reach a maximum length of 38–41 cm and a maximum weight of 280–430g.   For those birdwatchers who are fortunate enough to spot it, the bird is a stunning sight with its muscular body and average height of about 40 centimetres.

Characteristics to know about the Water Thick-knee bird species

This bird species’ remarkable plumage, which blends shades of earthy brown and grey, helps it blend in with its natural surroundings. During nocturnal activities, its huge, round, yellowish eyes, which are positioned high on the head, provide exceptional vision. The Water Thick-Knee’s beak is likewise sharp and pointed, making it ideal for snagging a broad range of animals. Their characteristic high-pitched, piping calls, which alternate between rapid and slow tempo, fill the early evening air.

The Senegal thick-knee, in contrast, is distinguished by its greyish wing panel that is bordered above by a single black bar. They both have tall, domed-headed profiles that resemble plovers. The wing panel is absent from the spotted thick-knee, and its back is speckled rather than streaked.

Habitats for Water Thick-knee birds

Uganda is a perfect home for the Water Thick-Knee because it is predominantly found in wetlands and coastal areas of sub-Saharan Africa. The company of slow-moving rivers, marshes, mangroves, swamps, riverbanks, and the shorelines of lakes and reservoirs is preferred by these birds. Because they graze on open mudflats and sandbars near bodies of water, they are especially common in these areas. During the day, they also spend much of their time resting near bodies of water, where they conceal themselves under rocks or foliage. `The thick-knee can be spotted in Murchison Falls National Park and Lake Mburo National Park in Uganda.

Behaviour aspects of  Water Thick-knee

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Water Thick-Knee’s behavior is its nocturnal nature. They are primarily active during the night, relying on their exceptional vision to hunt for food under the cover of darkness. As the sun sets, these birds come alive, emitting distinctive calls that resonate across the wetlands, adding to the ethereal ambiance of the Ugandan wilderness. These birds come alive at dusk, their unique sounds resonating through the wetlands, contributing to the mystical atmosphere of the Ugandan bush.

The Water Thick-Knee (Burhinus vermiculatus) eats a wide variety of foods, including tiny fish, crabs, frogs, insects, and invertebrates. They can effectively forage near the water’s edge by using their strong beaks to probe the mud or sand for concealed prey. They are expert hunters, able to bring down small fish and swiftly moving insects in the twilight.

How does the Water Thick-knee Nest?

Water thick-knee creates a basic scrape near bodies of water, frequently in proximity to landmarks such as trees, shrubs, and occasionally animal excrement. Occasionally, they frequently construct occasionally sparse open nests.

How does the Water Thick-knee breed?

During the dry season or the beginning of the rainy season, water thick-knees typically breed. In addition, it occasionally varies according on the region. The nest is a basic scrape in stony or sandy ground, frequently hidden under bushes or rocks, and a clutch normally comprises of one to three eggs.  Before the eggs hatch, the partners incubate them for 22 to 25 days. Being monogamous breeders, both parents actively participate in protecting the nest and tending to the eggs. When one of the partners passes away, the remaining partner will search for a new mate. This is how long the pair bond lasts.

Threats to the Water Thick-knee species

The Water Thick-Knee, however fascinating in nature and important ecologically, confronts a number of problems that have an effect on its population. These birds are seriously at risk from habitat loss brought on by wetland degradation, agricultural development, and urbanisation. Their total reproductive success is impacted by pollution and human disturbance in their natural habitats, which also interfere with their feeding and breeding schedules.

Conservation efforts for water Thick-knee bird species

To protect the Water Thick-Knee and other bird species, Uganda’s conservation efforts have been essential. Safe havens for these species to flourish are made possible by the creation of wetland reserves and protected areas. Furthermore, responsible ecotourism and community awareness-building can play a major role in helping to preserve these amazing animals. Understanding these amazing birds can help us better understand the precarious balance of life in their wetland environments.

Uganda’s Water Thick-Knee (Burhinus vermiculatus) is a genuine symbol of the varied bird life in the nation. The distinctive physical traits, alluring behaviour, and ecological significance of this species captivate the interest of both nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers. To preserve this amazing bird’s existence in Uganda’s wetlands and enhance the nation’s natural legacy for future generations, it is essential to preserve the habitats where the Water Thick-Knee lives.