Uganda is a home to a diverse avian species found in the country including the Water Thick-Knee (Burhinus vermiculatus), a unique holds a special place

Water thick-knee in Uganda

August 2, 2023

Uganda is a home to a diverse avian species found in the country including the Water Thick-Knee (Burhinus vermiculatus), a unique and captivating bird, holds a special place. With its distinct appearance, intriguing behavior, and ecological significance, the Water Thick-Knee has become a symbol of Uganda’s avian diversity.

The Water Thick-Knee, also known as the Water Dikkop, is a medium-sized wading bird belonging to the Burhinidae family. Its name is derived from its large, thickened knees, which are adapted to suit its terrestrial and aquatic lifestyle. The bird has a robust body and stands at an average height of around 40 centimeters, making it a striking sight for birdwatchers lucky enough to spot it.

This avian species has a striking plumage that features a mix of earthy brown and grey hues, which provide effective camouflage in its natural habitat. Its large, round eyes are placed high on the head, enabling excellent vision during nocturnal activities. The Water Thick-Knee also possesses a sharp, pointed beak, perfect for capturing a wide variety of prey.

The Water Thick-Knee is primarily found in the wetlands and coastal regions of sub-Saharan Africa, making Uganda an ideal habitat for this remarkable species. These birds prefer the company of slow-moving rivers, marshes, swamps, and shores of lakes and reservoirs. They are particularly abundant around bodies of water with exposed mudflats and sandbars, where they forage for food.

`The Water thick-knee can be spotted in Murchison falls national park and Lake Mburo national park in Uganda

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.

The diet of the Water Thick-Knee (Burhinus vermiculatus) is highly varied, encompassing a broad range of invertebrates, small fish, crustaceans, and insects. Their sturdy beaks allow them to forage efficiently along the water’s edge, probing the mud or sand for hidden prey. They are skilled hunters, capable of capturing fast-moving insects and small fish in the dim light of night.

Despite its intriguing nature and ecological significance, the Water Thick-Knee faces several threats that impact its population. Habitat loss due to urbanization, agricultural expansion, and wetland degradation poses a severe risk to these birds. Pollution and human disturbance in their natural habitats also disrupt their breeding and feeding patterns, affecting their overall reproductive success.

Conservation efforts in Uganda have been critical in safeguarding the Water Thick-Knee and other avian species. The establishment of protected areas and wetland reserves helps provide safe havens for these birds to thrive. Moreover, raising awareness among local communities and promoting responsible ecotourism can contribute significantly to the preservation of these remarkable creatures.

The Water Thick-Knee (Burhinus vermiculatus) in Uganda is a true emblem of the country’s diverse avian fauna. With its unique physical characteristics, captivating behavior, and ecological importance, this species captures the hearts of birdwatchers and nature lovers alike. Protecting the habitats where the Water Thick-Knee resides is vital to ensuring the continuity of this magnificent bird’s presence in Uganda’s wetlands, enriching the country’s natural heritage for generations to come.

error: Content is protected !!


Click one of our Safari Expert below to chat on WhatsApp or send us an email to

× How can I help you?